Over 1,000 daily calls expected to Samaritans amid new lockdown

ireland
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Digital Desk staff

Emotional support charity Samaritans is expecting to handle more than 1,000 daily calls from people struggling to cope with new restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The charity said it will be a challenge to meet the renewed demand for its services, as over 300 of its 1,500 volunteers are cocooning.

In his address to the nation last night, Taoiseach Micheál Martin acknowledged the new Level 5 restrictions will have an impact on people's mental wellbeing. Under Level 5, people are asked to stay at home and host no visitors while visits to long-term residential care facilities will also be suspended for the next six weeks.

Rory Fitzgerald, regional director of Samaritans Ireland, said the coming weeks will be tough on many people: "People are probably weary at this stage, it’s been going on for so long and now they’re facing into six weeks at least of limited things they can do.

“Our key message is really, somebody might have to be on the phone or whatever, but not to leave yourself alone... we must look after ourselves.”

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Psychotherapist Iseult White has said it is vital that people get outside and keep in touch with others: “The way to get out of your head is actually to get outdoors, is to connect with somebody.

“To actually do something physical with your body, because you can’t be in your head when you’re doing something physical with your body, and to connect emotionally and socially with somebody,” she recommended.

You may never have called or texted one of those lines before, but take your heart in your hand and take a deep breath and do it this time... you will find that it’s a really good experience.

“It will have to be from two metres distance - maybe somebody who’s out there in the park while you’re walking the dog or picking up the phone and talking to a friend - but those are the two most fundamental things you can do for your mental health as we go through this.”

Ms White said people should use trained services to help them cope: “There are resources out there in terms of the crisis helplines and we already trot out these numbers.

“But the thing I’d like to say to anybody who’s feeling like that at the moment is: you may never have called or texted one of those lines before, but take your heart in your hand and take a deep breath and do it this time if you’re feeling really significantly distressed at any stage, and you will find that it’s a really good experience.”

If you are struggling there are a range of supports available – people can freephone Samaritans at any time on 116 123, young people can talk to Jigsaw through its live online web chat and people can text about their issue – no matter how big or small – by texting HELLO to 50808.

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