There has been much talk of a ‘tsunami’ of mental health problems following the coronavirus epidemic as many come to terms with loss, of health, of jobs, homes and hopes for the future.
Some will be those who found it hard to get the mental healthcare they needed for severe mental illness and must not be forgotten now- as demand rises. Yet the experiences of those who are grieving in our society have too often been dismissed as ‘normal’ and nothing to do with mental health care. What we have witnessed in the first year of the Greater Manchester Bereavement Service is how so many those bereaved by and during the Covid-19 pandemic have felt overwhelmed by grief of a severity and form that requires so much more than simply the passage of time to heal. What can we do to help? How do we support those for whom loss can be so painful that they would prefer not to carry on living? and what part should support, counselling and psychotherapy play?
The importance of informed, appropriate and accessible services in this context cannot be over-stated. However, the extent to which services – and practitioners – are trauma-informed is less clear; their capacity to respond to complex grief unknown (given that many professionals will have experienced their own losses too); and their ability to remain accessible with high demand an ongoing challenge. The additional challenge as to how training programmes can equip those coming into the helping professions to meet the needs associated with complex grief will require commensurate thought.
This session will consider and reflect on these important conversations.
Dr Linda Gask is Emerita Professor of Primary Care Psychiatry at the University of Manchester and a retired consultant psychiatrist. She has been involved with Six Degrees Social Enterprise since before it was founded and is now its non-executive vice-chair. She returned to work during the pandemic to help set up the Greater Manchester Bereavement Service for SDSE and has written two memoirs- most recently ‘Finding True North- the healing power of place’ which also addresses family loss and grief.
Dr Andrew Reeves is an Associate Professor in the Counselling Professions and Mental Health and the University of Chester. He is a Registered Social Worker and BACP Senior Accredited Counsellor/Psychotherapist with over 35 years of working experience in a range of settings, including statutory mental health crisis services, education and the third sector. He has written extensively around working with risk in the psychological therapies and is Immediate Past-Chair of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).