Mental Health Support during COVID-19

For Mental Health Awareness Week, we asked Claire from our Community Transitions Service to speak about the affects of COVID-19 on the people at the project.

My name is Claire and I am a Support Housing Officer for the Community Transitions Service.  The project provides housing for people who suffer from mental health issues and we help clients with life skills so they are to move into their own independent tenancies.

We support clients in a wide range of areas such as housing, benefits and debts. We encourage clients to take part in activities like cooking, sports, and any courses they are interested in.  We work closely with other services like mental health providers to make sure that clients have access to mental health support and medication.  We also work with solicitors, the courts service and Moneywise with is an agency that can help people with debts.

During the COVID-19 lock-down I have been working from home as my family is shielded which was challenging to start with. I have now got into a routine and been creative about different ways I can give support. WhatsApp has been great as I can have face to face contact with clients which feels more personal. If clients are on a low income, we have sorted food parcel deliveries out.

Some clients are nervous about the virus and feel more isolated than they did before lock-down.  Staff have listened to clients and given practical advice about how to reduce the risks of getting COVID-19 and how to keep healthy (physically and mentally) encouraging daily walks and exercise. Distraction packs and computer tablets have been given to clients to help keep people occupied.  We have also been keeping an eye on mental health.  If clients need extra support, we contact mental health services.

I worry about the longer-term challenges for my clients after lock down.  The council’s housing register has been suspended and nobody can bid.  This means that clients will have to wait longer to move to their own tenancies.  Once the bidding system is back up and running staff will provide extra support to make sure that people can move to secure permanent housing.