A mental health charity is preparing for a future where “desperate” individuals may not be able to visit for help.
Astrid Whyte, chief executive of Mental Health Aberdeen, outlined the devastating impact the coronavirus outbreak is already having on people’s emotional wellbeing.
Charity workers are still based at its Alford Place office for now, but they fear it may soon close to new referrals and walk-in appointments for an indefinite spell.
To make sure that volunteers and counsellors can still lend a listening ear when required, Ms Whyte is in the process of setting up a new telephone service.
She said: “This is for directing traffic, but also for people to speak to someone who will help them reduce their anxiety in the meantime.
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“Our waiting list is large, and we can’t shut our eyes and ears to how much worse the situation could get.
“I’m worried that people will be unwell and unable to contact someone urgently. We have an obligation to help them.
“I do fear that, in isolated pockets, things could get really desperate.”
Ms Whyte has urged people to look after each other and avoid an “overload” of information that could increase anxieties.
She said: “There is a lot of misinformation and frightening knowledge out there.
“It really is important for people to try their best to keep calm and avoid an overload of information.”
The charity chief also offered suggestions on how people can boost their mood during such troubling times.
She said: “Find hobbies, and jobs in the house you can do to give yourself a sense of achievement. Really importantly, talk to people.
“Call your friends, your family.
“We have to get through this somehow and some people will require a little more help, so let’s help each other.”
Like many charities, Mental Health Aberdeen has been forced to cancel fundraising events, and is desperately seeking donations to carry on after the pandemic.
While Ms Whyte is working on establishing her service, anyone who is struggling can contact the Samaritans for free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, on 116 123 or by emailing email@example.com