Mental health groups in Buchan are there to help during lockdown

While most of us are content to take daily exercise and remain indoors for most of the time, those suffering with mental health across Buchan are struggling to come to terms with the new regime.

By Morag Kuc
Friday, 17th April 2020, 9:56 am
Updated Friday, 17th April 2020, 9:57 am
Mental health support groups Shirleys Space and Men United have both had to change tack in an effort to deal with the increasing numbers of people who are failing to cope with lockdown
Mental health support groups Shirleys Space and Men United have both had to change tack in an effort to deal with the increasing numbers of people who are failing to cope with lockdown

Mental health support groups Shirley’s Space and Men United have both had to change tack in an effort to deal with the increasing numbers of people who are failing to cope with lockdown on top of mental illness.

Shirley’s Space, which is based in Crimond, told us: “Ask any practitioner and sufferer of mental health what is the advice they would give to others and one of the two things they will tell you is to talk and get outside for exercise.

“Over the last few weeks Shirley’s Space has had to change to abide by government advice and protect up to 20 visitors to the centre from potentially contract Covid-1o.

“This has caused many sufferers to feel like their daily or weekly lifeline has been pulled from them and left them even more vulnerable than before.”

Shirley’s Space also provides a text messaging service and has introduced daily video ‘coffee mornings’ but these have not been as successful as the team had hoped as many of the visitors enjoy more face-to-face tactile meetings with the team.

This means that there is a worry for those people who have suddenly ‘gone quite’ whereas before they would have embraced conversation more in the traditional format.

Shirley’s Space manager, Fiona Weir, has raised concerns over the current situation.

“Not many of the sufferers we see like change and it is all a gradual process with improving someone’s mental health and this is having a very large affect on the community,” she said.

Meanwhile, Sandy Garvock of Peterhead-based Men United says it has been a very hard time for some of the men.

He told us: “The guys who are still working are managing not too badly, but those who have been furloughed from work or are having to work from home are struggling the most as it’s a huge change from their normal routine.

“Boredom is another massive factor as we always encourage the guys to get out and do stuff to keep their minds active. But they can’t do that just now.”

As for advice, both charities say try to find someone to talk to if you are worried or message them if you don’t have anyone to speak with.

Take up a hobby - writing, painting - create something just to keep your mind active, rather than worrying. Look for positives in life and don’t always think doom and gloom. Use your excerise time to go out a walk/run. Listen to music or podcasts.

There’s lots of uplifting inspirational podcasts available that will help you to think positive .

Sandy said: “Contact us if your struggling with life. We help guys from 18-80 and it’s not just mental health we help we also help guys who just feel like life’s dragging them down.

“Meetings are suspended just now but we have chat online, zoom calls and phone calls too so there’s always a way .”

You can get in touch with Men United via their Facebook or if you prefer you can email them at [email protected]

Fiona continued: “Mental health is arguably one of the biggest victims of COVID-19 and it is those suffering that will need to endure its effects.

“With the lockdown continuing it will only be a matter of time before the government needs to put a firm action plan in place for helping these sufferers.

“As far as Shirley’s Space can see the remote counselling is not having the same effect and traction as the traditional visits did.”

Ashley Mackie, Trustee of Shirley’s Space said: “Mental health is hugely important for not only our visitors but everyone at the moment. It is predicted that COVID-19 will increase mental health sufferers in Scotland and globally. I have friends who have been made redundant, people I know are unable to do activities that take the edge off their usual worries, have bereavements and just about everyone is worried about their future.

“It could potentially take years for society to return to how it was pre-COVID-19,” she said. “We need to put firm strategies in place for how we can help the mentally vulnerable now before more victims are taken by this invisible illness.”

You can contact Shirley’s Space via its text messaging service on 07940959002.

However, the charity can arrange a video call to anyone who is feeling particularly isolated. Find it on Facebook where you can get more details on the service available.

“We are not going anywhere, we just sadly need to change our routine to protect our visitors and volunteers,” added Ashley.