Around 1,400 people in the north-east have accessed a new psychological service from NHS Grampian set up to help people cope with issues around Covid-19.
The health board launched its virtual Psychological Resilience Hub in March – the first in Scotland – days after lockdown was imposed.
Hundreds of people have since referred themselves to the service, which acts as “psychological first aid” to those struggling with changes and fears caused by the virus.
It aims to reduce distress, support staff to remain at work, reduce presentations to front line medical areas and prevent further psychological harm.
Dr Lynne Taylor, director of psychology at NHS Grampian, said: “It’s been important to have this facility during this period because it has been much needed to be able to give people the extra support and psychological advice needed.
“The problem is the current situation is so unknown and so unexpected with no end point, if you are the kind of person who likes to feel in control, or have experienced trauma before, then the current climate is not going to be one where you do.
“Lots of people are worried about practical things too such as losing their jobs or are realising that working from home isn’t temporary and it’s going to be longer term.”
Members of the public and staff are able to self-refer themselves to the service by online.
NHS Grampian connects patients to an appropriate clinician depending on level of distress and they are experiencing, with up to three sessions of support available.
Four teams of staff provided support during the pandemic, while more than 80 volunteers also gave their time to the service.
It is now transitioning to a core clinical team with a smaller number of volunteers.
Dr Taylor added: “As the phases of local lockdowns vary in coming months, and the unknown aspects of the virus and infection rates, the psychological impact for many is growing.
“The responses of individuals are unique and for many they are coping well, but the service is there to support those who feel they need that extra bit of help.
“When lockdown was lifted we were averaging 80-90 referrals a week but it now around 50 at the moment.
“The staff referrals went up very quickly to start with but now they have gone right down, the public ones weren’t going up initially but now they are.”