'Lockdown' is leading to mental health issues in community

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Mental health issues surrounding self-isolation and ‘lockdown’ will come to the fore as the Covid-19 pandemic begins to taper off, a local community worker has warned.

Carol Doey, manager at The Hub in Cookstown, says she and her team of volunteers are getting calls from people who are struggling with depression after the measures were brought in to prevent the spread of the virus.

The Hub has been flat out delivering groceries and prescriptions to people self-isolating in the Mid Ulster area. Carol says they have been looking out for all age groups who are unable to leave their homes.

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Carol said they also try to “cheer up” people who are struggling with the loneliness brought on by self-isolating and the uncertainty.

Carol Doey, manager at The Hub, Cookstown.Carol Doey, manager at The Hub, Cookstown.
Carol Doey, manager at The Hub, Cookstown. | jpimediaresell

The Hub has also been posting videos every other day on its Facebook page to make people laugh.

People tell us they make them laugh and that is good when there is so much trauma and stress about,” she continued.

Carol believes that nurses and doctors and other NHS staff will be left traumatised by their work.

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“I work in here from 9.30am to 1.30pm then I do the deliveries,” she went on. “I’m emotionally drained at the end of it so what’s it like for nurses and doctors doing 10-12 hour shifts?”

“The way I look at it is no one is going to starve. The Council has food banks, St Vincent de Paul has food banks and we have food banks and all they have to do is ask,” she said.

She said last week The Hub was the first port of call for people in the Cookstown area because they had three telephone lines open and were prepared to pick up prescriptions for people.

Carol offered this advice to anyone struggling with depression in the current climate: “First enjoy your own company and know that you are here for a reason and, second live for now in the moment.”

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The Hub can be contacted on 028 8676 3398 or 07513 393 048 for anyone self-isolating, Monday to Friday.

In addition to The Hub there are many other groups with volunteers offering help, as well as advice, counselling or just a friendly chat over the phone.

The local District Council says it ‘stands ready’ to distribute food boxes to the most vulnerable and ‘shielded’ residents.

The Council will coordinate the new weekly service, introduced by the Department for Communities (DfC), which will see thousands of food boxes delivered directly to the doors of vulnerable people who have been notified to shield by their GPs, who cannot afford food and do not have access to support networks.

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Chair of the Council, Councillor Martin Kearney, said they would support their residents most in need during the Covid-19 crisis.

“We stand ready to work alongside the health service and with the network of local groups and organisations which are already operating the length and breadth of Mid Ulster to support our residents who are most in need during this crisis.

“This food box service will, quite literally, be a lifeline for those people who must isolate for medical reasons and whose financial circumstances are challenging.

“The people of Mid Ulster have already shown the strength of their community spirit. It will only grow as we continue to respond collectively to the very real needs which exist among our most vulnerable residents.”

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Meanwhile, Energy, Mind & Body in Cookstown currently have a food bank open for the elderly and vulnerable where they deliver to people's doorsteps essential shopping.

A spokesperson said: "This is a free service we are providing for food donations and food deliveries.

"We have Tesco, Mark's and Spencer's and Cornercake Shop currently helping us with food donations and there are other agencies getting involved too."

They can be contacted through their Facebook page.

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