By Clodagh Meaney
Mental Health charity Helplink have announced that they are to offer free online counselling during the COVID-19 crisis.
The global health pandemic, which has seen almost 800,000 cases worldwide has led experts to predict that almost 318,000 people in Ireland will lose their jobs.
Healthlink, a charity that has been providing mental health services locally in the West of Ireland, nationally and internationally for over 7 years are responding to the COVID-19 crisis, by providing support to communities who are struggling with their mental health and or emotional wellbeing at this uncertain time.
"In Helplink we have been providing mental health services at low costs or for free for nearly eight years now. In fact, when we started off in 2012, our first service was an online counselling service," Lochlann Scott, CEO of Helplink told EMPWR.
"After a lot of research we saw that to be a truly accessible and inclusive mental health service we needed to provide people with as many options as possible to access supports. Since then we have grown the amount of services we provide and are now a national and global leader in providing, for example, counselling services online."
The enterprises' counselling scheme offers people laid off work due to the crisis 6 free sessions, this scheme also extends to people with addictions, Irish returning home and Irish living abroad.
Helplink also offer low-cost counselling sessions for students, part-time workers, single parents and those in receipt of social protection payments.
Lochlann says that when the charity first realised that as a nation, radical action would have to be taken to stop the spread of the virus they knew that their services would make a huge difference to people.
"We saw the devastating affect that the crisis was having on more specific groups of people, like those 300,000 plus people who are getting laid off work due to the crisis and others like people with addictions," he explained.
"We realised that although our normally low cost counselling services were great and affordable for most people we needed to support our fellow citizens even more by providing our community response counselling services for free during the crisis."
He told EMPWR how his social enterprise was able to quickly adapt to the crisis in the best interests of those most vulnerable.
"In these strange times charities and social enterprises like ours that are agile and innovative can make a real difference to people's lives quickly and efficiently," he said.
"I am very proud of all our Counsellors and the new emergency panel of Counsellors, that we have taken on to help with our response, for providing their expertise and care voluntarily during this time"
If you'd like to avail of these supports you can contact Helplink directly.
Alternatively, if you'd like to donate to Helplink so that they can continue to provide vital mental health services to those in need, you can do so here.