'Covid has definitely left a mark': Cork mental health charity reports rise in young people seeking help

'Covid has definitely left a mark': Cork mental health charity reports rise in young people seeking help

Mr Kearns said it was evident that Covid-19 had “left a mark” on children struggling to cope with the fallout from the pandemic. File photo. 

CORK charity Lisheens House has witnessed a rise in the number of young children seeking professional support for their mental health, with the charity’s manager saying that a lot of problems are now “coming home to roost” following the pandemic.

Lisheens House is a community-based mental health charity that provides free counseling, training, and support services throughout Cork City and county.

Manager Mick Kearns said children as young as seven years of age are in distress and seeking professional help.

“People as young as seven are in trouble and attending counselling sessions to deal with anxiety issues,” said Mr Kearns.

“People are saying the rug has been pulled out from under them. The restrictions went over our heads I suppose and we never thought of the younger people. It is now starting to manifest itself in their behaviour,” he said.

Mr Kearns said it was evident that Covid-19 had “left a mark” on children struggling to cope with the fallout from the pandemic.

“Covid has been a huge factor and it has definitely left a mark,” he said.

“People had a lot of time on their hands. Everyone’s life has been turned upside down. School’s being closed and not seeing their friends has had an impact. It is coming home to roost now.”

'People are struggling to cope'

It is not just young people which the charity is seeing, with Mr Kearns saying that they are supporting people of all ages.

“People are struggling to cope across the board. We are seeing teenagers, both boys, and girls. Prior to Covid, we had seen an increase in teenagers, and drug use would be prevalent. We knew it was going in that direction. This combined with Covid has accelerated the numbers coming to us. It is frightening. Not so long ago there was an age of innocence between childhood and growing into young adults. That seems to be gone now with social media,” he added.

The manager of Lisheens House said the only positive aspect is that distressed people are reaching out to them for their expertise.

“Previously we had one paid therapist who we used intermittently, now we have three paid therapists. The only good thing is that people are reaching out and they are not afraid to contact us. We can provide a sounding board and hopefully provide a solution to most problems. If a child is affected the whole house is likely to be affected. We are there to support the child, the parents, and the siblings.”

New building

Lisheens House recently purchased a building in Skibbereen which they plan to dedicate to child and adolescent services.

Mr Kearns paid tribute to the local community for their support.

“We don’t get government grants. We sell donated furniture. We have a shop in Clonakilty and Skibbereen. We also sell online. The support from the local community has been brilliant. We have seen the need and the demand to open a dedicated child and adolescent service centre. It will be a permanent base and it is ideal. Our new building will also help to raise awareness.”

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