Letters to the Editor: We must mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on mental health

Letters to the Editor: We must mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on mental health

The coronavirus pandemic has created a highly stressful environment over the last nine months, with the virus itself and the associated restrictions having a significant mental health impact.

I refer to the recent article in the news “Study claims 18% of Covid patients later diagnosed with mental illness”, which indicates that almost one in five people have been diagnosed with a mental illness such as anxiety, depression or insomnia within three months of testing positive for the Covid-19 virus.

Upon reading the article, I was intrigued by the observations of Paul Harrison, professor of psychiatry at the University of Oxford, who said “more research was needed to establish whether a diagnosis of a psychiatric disorder could be directly linked to getting coronavirus and that general factors that influence physical health were not captured in the records analysed, such as socio-economic background, smoking, or use of drugs”.

He went on to point out that there was also potential that the general stressful environment of the pandemic is playing a role.

While the question of whether these diagnoses are a direct outcome of the virus remains.

I feel these diagnoses could also be explained by the circumstances which Covid-19 has placed people in.

The Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP) commissioned a Behavior & Attitudes (B&A) survey during March this year which revealed that 45% of people under the age of 25 were often feeling stress compared to only 8% at this time last year.

The pandemic has created a highly stressful environment over the last nine months, with the virus itself and the associated restrictions having a significant mental health impact.

It is no surprise there has been a spike in mental health issues.

With this news, we need to ensure that those diagnosed with the virus and those who need extra support during this time, receive the support they require.

There has been an increase in pandemic related demand for counselling and psychotherapy sessions and it is not unreasonable to assume that this demand will not only continue but will increase.

So, whether these diagnoses are directly related to the virus, the associated Covid-19 restrictions or a combination of both, the mental health impact is obvious, and action is needed now.

The IACP has for years advocated for increased accessibility to counselling and psychotherapy.

Our pre-budget submission sought to do just that in a number of ways; by providing financial supports such as tax relief and extension of PRSI and medical card benefits, by applying the same VAT Exemption for counsellors and psychotherapists as is available to other allied health professionals and the introduction of a counselling support service to complement existing supports in second-level schools.

Research is vitally important in helping us combat the terrible effects of this virus.

The IACP welcomes this study and its suggestion that action is needed to mitigate the mental health impact of the pandemic.

However, history has shown us
that access to health care can’t be limited to the few and today’s pandemic confirms that we can no longer wait for a quality mental health care system.

Lisa Molloy

CEO, Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy

Clarence St

Dún Laoghaire

Dublin

Accommodation is better than more statues in Cork

The suggestion to put more statues along Cork city streets is another bad idea. How many more dust and dirt catchers must be erected which do little for the person or subject they are to remember?

They can be seen, not alone in Cork, but throughout our country as dining spots where food wrappings are discarded or greasy marks are left by inconsiderate people.

They are all over our countryside, erected, then left to gather dirt and are very seldom maintained.

Would it not be far more sensible to use the money to erect some building which could be used for accommodation or other community use. It could be dedicated to all who gave their lives for our freedom and forget about individualising people or events.

Tony Fagan

Enniscorthy

Co Wexford

Varadkar sets a poor example

Was it just me? As I watched the Varadkar “confidence” debate it became increasingly obvious that Fine Gael members failed to realise that by using the alleged sins of others as a defence, they were conceding that the moral compass for all politicians is now calibrated by the worst s(h)inners.

If they behave badly, it is ok for us to do likewise.

Methinks it would have been wiser to let Varadkar slip quietly away via the backbenches.

They will reap a bitter harvest from what they now sow.

Jim O’Sullivan

Rathedmond

Sligo

Outcome of battle of the judges

The Chief Justice-v-Judge Woulfe. No contest. There can be only one outcome no matter what sort of examination process or how many of them are had. He will be wolfed.

Kevin T Finn

Mitchelstown

Co Cork

Woulfe punishment should fit the crime

Seamus Woulfe is only 58 years old and a very senior and experienced barrister. Why the rule that says that if he were to resign as a judge he could not practice as a barrister? Surely the effect of this rule is that if he had resigned following the golf dinner that would be the end of his legal career, a punishment completely out of proportion to the “crime”.

Brendan Casserly

Bishopstown

Supermarkets can reward hard work

It’s great to see Tesco plan to give staff a 10% Christmas bonus. Other supermarkets should follow suit. The supermarket staff are the real covid heroes trying to keep people fed, watered and socially distanced. It is right their efforts are being recognised.

John Williams

Clonmel

Give us the health service we need

Everyone knows what we need. We need a functioning health service. We need to shorten waiting lists that are politely murdering and maiming thousands of Irish people. We cannot do that without being more sceptical and strong in our dealings with the private healthcare sector. Also known as “the illness business”. We need to build public housing for people who have nowhere to live. These policy imperatives are basic. Everything after is a bonus. Explain why I’m wrong. You can’t. And this is the problem. Fine Gael think we’ll get used to stepping over lads in sleeping bags on O’Connell St. We won’t. The country is too small. Fine Gael think we’ll get our heads around dying if we don’t have private health insurance. We won’t. The country is too small. The last election was a warning. We don’t think this is “normal” and we no longer accept it.

Michael Deasy

Carrigart

Co Donegal

Wear a mask and protect everyone

Like most, I find the masks annoying but wear them as they are compulsory by law. In Victoria with 5m people and masks being worn, no new cases for almost two weeks. In America with over 300m people and masks often not being worn over 100,000 new cases a day. I know it is a world of fake news, but this is simple — wear a mask and save lives. Please.

Dennis Fitzgerald

Melbourne, Australia

Could Trump bunker down here?

With over 71m votes, Mr Trump is doomed to be the biggest loser in American history. In October he said that, “Maybe I’ll have to leave the country” if he was beaten by Mr Biden. He could retreat to his golf resort in Doonbeg. To mark his epic bunkering the resort could be renamed Doom Mhór.

Joe Dunne

Shanakiel

Cork

Israeli violence must be curbed

Last week, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney denounced the Israeli military’s
destruction of the Palestinian village of Homsa al-Baqia as a “brutal and violent act”.

An astute politician, Minister Coveney must know by now that the Israeli government care nothing for his words. Condemnations without the realistic threat of sanctions can only be regarded as empty platitudes.

Given Minister Coveney’s insistence that our nation’s response should be within a context of EU consensus, he should campaign for Israel to be suspended from the Euro-Med Trade Agreement for its flagrant violation of the human rights protocols upon which access is supposed to depend.

Brian Ó Eigeartaigh

Donnybrook,

Dublin 4

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