Mental health professionals offer advice on getting out of a pandemic
Everyone in Ireland will need to take a psychological journey as society emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic, a leading mental health professional has said.
“We will all have to reform ourselves to social interactions and take reasonable risks as we re-engage face to face and end all these zoom calls,” said Paul Gilligan, CEO of St Patrick’s Mental Health Services.
Mr Gilligan was speaking at the #MindYourSelfie webinar on Thursday, which focused on how young people can better prepare for life after the lockdown.
He said that at some level everyone suffers from a post traumatic stress reaction and we need to give ourselves time to talk about what we have been through.
“There is still a huge amount of uncertainty and none of us have been through a pandemic before, so we are not. [FULLY]know the emotional and psychological impact of it, ”he said.
“There is a feeling of optimism and happiness – sometimes close to euphoria – that it’s almost over and things will get back to normal, but there will be feelings of anger, depression and a sense of loss that people will feel in different ways, “he said.
Concerned about not “talking” about a mental health pandemic as an inevitable consequence of the Covid pandemic, Mr Gilligan said most people will not need professional help.
He offered three tips for young people – and everyone else – for coping with life after the lockdown.
Mr Gilligan, who is a clinical psychologist, said that first of all people need to “believe that we are loved, that we are good people and that we have the capacity to be happy”.
He said emotional honesty will be “50 percent of the trip” out of this pandemic for individuals. “We all have deep-seated psychological resilience and the connection to that will be really important as we emerge from this pandemic.”
His second piece of advice is “to trust others”. He said: “Most young people know they can trust family, teachers and organizations and it is a reminder that it is important to express what you are feeling, to listen and to communicate. with other people you trust. ”
His third piece of advice is to “embrace uncertainty”.
“There have been huge losses which have been different for each of us, but it is important that we share our stories about Covid,” he said.
According to Mr Gilligan, some people will want to switch from Covid-19 quickly, but there has to be space to process what has happened.
“Some young people feel like they’ve wasted a year and want to forget that it never happened. For any trauma, if you leave too early, you don’t give yourself the space you need to talk.
Speaking at the same webinar, Dr Aideen O’Neill, clinical psychologist at St Patrick’s Mental Health Services, said the lockdowns created specific hardships for young people with eating disorders.
“The unpredictability makes us all more anxious and some people have become preoccupied with food to stay in control. The social media focus on food and fitness and the challenges of the lockdown stages has not been helpful for some young people, ”she said.
Dr O’Neill advised young people with eating disorders to talk about their feelings and seek support from those around them.
Representatives from the youth mental health charity, Spunout, the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and the LGBT + support group BelongTo were among other organizations present at the webinar offering support to young people. on life after lockdown.