Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Coronavirus lockdown could cause ‘long-term damage’ to children’s mental health, charity warns

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The Bridge Foundation has over 30 staff and a successful 35 year track record of providing a range of counselling, psychotherapy, consultation and supervision services to the local community.

The charity’s highly-trained therapists, specialised to work with children and families, provide therapeutic services for more than 500 children, young people and families per year.

Therapists support people of all ages with a huge range of issues such as anxiety & social anxiety, depression, self-harm, gender identity or sexuality, trauma, bereavement and family breakdown or relationship difficulties. 

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During this current pandemic, there are many additional reasons why families and individuals of all ages are coming under pressure. 

For some, existing anxieties and phobias are increased, for some children (and adults) behaviour becomes more challenging as people experience more frustration or as anxiety tips into anger, while others might find themselves retreating into themselves and feeling higher levels of despair and hopelessness, struggles with sleep or difficulty concentrating.

The team of therapists at The Bridge Foundation have adapted the therapy & counselling they provide for online and phone appointments. They are finding that through the use of technology it’s possible to support families effectively. 

This includes supporting parents to better help their children, helping with family dynamics and working with individual children and young people directly, as well as therapy for adults.

It might be easy to imagine how adults’ therapy might move to online working/working by phone, but how about therapy for children?  The work often continues to involve play, with children using toys to tell stories, draw picture, make models etc., and therapists continuing to think about what it is that children are showing about their feelings. 

By using technology in this way children can present their feelings in often new ways, e.g. by giving the therapist a “child’s eye” view of the story they are playing out or using drawing tools that some online platforms offer. 

Some of the work involves parents and children together, playing and talking, with therapists helping both the parents & children to make sense of some difficult feelings and behaviours. 

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For some young people and for some adults, working remotely has felt liberating, allowing people to talk more openly about thoughts and feelings that are hard to speak about. 

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For others the use of technology feels challenging and therapists have been supporting clients to find ways of working that feel most helpful to each individual.

The Bridge Foundation’s team of specialist therapists include child and adolescent psychotherapists, art & music therapists, a psychologist, psychiatrist and counsellors. 

They are all highly experienced, but moving to remote working has faced the team with new challenges – how to manage the technology, how to help clients feel more comfortable with this new way of working, how to engage with young children in new ways. 

To date, online and phone sessions have supported children, adolescents, families and adults with all sorts of issues. These have included the impact for families of having children around at home more of the time, the challenges of home schooling and increased levels of anxiety for people of all ages. 

Some long-term clients of The Bridge Foundation have made the move to remote appointments, while new clients have been starting their work remotely. 

Therapists have been supporting people with the huge level of uncertainty that many people are facing as well as the impact of changes in people’s lives, such as sudden ends to studying, job losses and changes in children’s education.

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The Bridge Psychotherapy Service clinical manager, Georgina Taylor, said: “Our work is needed more than ever at this very challenging time, and we are adapting to meet this unprecedented need. 

“We know that for some people this has been a time of building stronger relationships and enjoying time together as a family, but for others it has strained relationships, increased anxieties & anger or increased feelings of hopelessness. 

“We are pleased to be able to continue to offer a service, and excited by the opportunity to extend the work we do beyond Bristol, as with remote therapy location isn’t an issue. 

“We plan to continue some remote working permanently, it’s proved to be a helpful way of working for many people.”

Photo by Tim Dennell

The Bridge Foundation is able to offer long-term therapy as well as brief interventions and one-off consultations, depending on what is needed. 

People can phone or email in to make an initial appointment and there’s no commitment beyond this; in the first appointment the therapist will help clients to work out what kind of help is needed and how that might be offered, whether that’s for an adult, a young child or for a whole family. 

If this sounds like it might be helpful, you can find out more from The Bridge Foundation’s website: bridgefoundation.org.uk or you can call them on  0117 9424510 or email info@bridgefoundation.org.uk

It’s a fee-paying service, and the fee depends on the family’s income – this will be discussed with you when you call or email in.

Currently there are no long waits, and you will be able to choose from an online or phone appointment. 

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DWP faces judicial review after mentally ill man found ‘starved to death’

Errol Graham starved to death in June 2018 after the DWP stopped his benefits.