Minister for Health announces extra €1.1 million funding for online mental health support
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Minister for Health announces extra €1.1 million funding for online mental health support

IRELAND'S MINISTER for Health has announced an extra €1.1 million in funding for online mental health support services.

Minister Simon Harris announced the new funding yesterday, Sunday 26 April, in order to assist people-- particularly health care staff on the front lines of the battle against Covid-19-- to manage their mental health during and following the coronavirus crisis.

The finding will assist the Health Service Executive (HSE) in setting up and delivering a range of additional support to those struggling with their mental health through online and telephone services.

Mr Harris, announcing the new funding, acknowledged that the spread of coronavirus throughout the country "has caused hurt, pain, tragedy for many people.

"It has also left many people feeling alone, isolated, anxious and stressed. The additional funding announced today will allow us to increase our reach and help more people."

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"Our frontline staff need our help more than ever" - Minister for Health Simon Harris

Since the effective lockdown began, online youth mental health service SpunOut has reported a 44% increase in people getting in contact-- with a 100% increase in people reporting stress or anxiety.

Loneliness is another common theme, as 50% of texters to SpunOut report they have nobody to talk to, and 77% of 16,000 calls to elderly support charity Alone admitting they live on their own.

There has also been a massive increase in people looking for online counselling through support service MyMind-- 34% seeking help for anxiety and up to 20% asking for help with depression.

"We know also that our frontline staff need our help more than ever," Mr Harris said. "Every day, they go to work and place themselves in harm's way to protect us.

"The HSE has begun some work with staff helping them to manage stress, to take some rest and how to build resilience. In the past two weeks the site was accessed by 1,200 professionals. This funding will allow us to help more frontline staff."

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As well as more online and telephone counselling services, the funding will also help the public and HSE staff by creating online life skills courses to help people manage stress, and will provide moderated online support groups and additional supports for Leaving Certificate students who are studying for exams despite all the uncertainty.

"This funding is an initial step but will allow us to offer some support when you need it the most," Minister Harris concluded.

A range of support can be found on the government's website here; anyone requiing further assistance can also access the YourMentalHealth site via the HSE here.