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A Co Mayo GP and former Senator has called for all frontline workers, including doctors and other healthcare workers to be provided with some free mental health support during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dr Keith Swanick a GP in Belmullet in north Mayo and former Senator, was the chairperson of the Loneliness Taskforce, which published the report A Connected Island: An Ireland Free from Loneliness in 2018.
“With regards the mental health of frontline workers. I think there has to be some specialised fund put in place of psychologists, psychotherapists and counsellors that need to be employed,” Dr Swanick told the Medical Independent (MI).
“And frontline workers would be given an opportunity to engage with those [mental health professionals] , maybe six free sessions as part of your contract. I think that is something that should happen.
“It should be for all frontline workers who want to avail, cleaners, nurses, HCWs, doctors whoever. Six free consultations with a professional counsellor psychotherapist or psychologist paid for by the HSE.”
Dr Swanick was speaking to MI regarding the impact of loneliness on people during the current pandemic ( see feature- www.medicalindependent.ie/the-void-of-loneliness/ )
He said a special focus needs to be maintained on the impact on young people who are disconnected from one another at the moment.
“I think we have to mindful of them, especially if this social distancing continues,” he said.
“Especially when you get into September, they would be looking forward to going back to college, that first semester might be worrisome. They might be doing a lot of online stuff, and maybe until after Christmas into January, February or March.
“I think that could impact the mental health of younger people. We need to look at depression, anxiety, maybe suicide rates in young people after the summer time. I think that could be a dangerous period as well.”
*See ‘The Void of Loneliness’ www.medicalindependent.ie/the-void-of-loneliness/