Gray Crawford of Petersgate Counselling Centre outlines the devastation happening in our communities because of COVID.

You didn’t need a crystal ball to have predicted that the uncontrollability and uncertainty generated by Covid-19 would have resulted in generalized anxiety within our communities.

What did surprise counsellors at Petersgate Counselling Centre however was the significant number of clients who presented throughout the year with serious mental health issues created by Covid-19, especially among the already marginalized and vulnerable.

This made 2020 a very busy year within Petersgate. Our 22 professional counsellors provided counselling to 1,044 clients, 734 being new to our service, totalling 5,341 counselling hours. Yet these statistics only tell part of the story. Behind these numbers were lives devastated by the pandemic.

Young people, for example, had a year of disrupted daily routines, limiting school and important social events such as parties, sports and graduations. Petersgate counsellors also noted an increased number of younger people participating in compulsive behaviours such as online gambling, binge watching Netflix and being on social media for extended periods of time.

Paradoxically the sensationalized and conflicting content on social media would cause them stress which would then draw them further into social media causing further distress. A rabbit hole that was often difficult for them to extricate themselves.

The fear and fatigue of contracting ‘fatal’ Covid-19, social isolation and economic insecurity also significantly affected the elderly who found it difficult to adjust to this new ‘normal.’ The lack of physical contact would then evolve into chronic loneliness and a general lack of purpose and meaning in their lives.

Petersgate’s counsellors provided practical assistance such as tips on mindfulness, exercise, time outdoors, strengthening cultural identity and healthy sleep, food and drink habits. They also provided emotional support by assisting them in identifying and naming their fears and then providing them with self-care strategies that enabled them to rebuild their self-esteem and motivation, improve confidence and develop a more positive attitude. It was all about recognizing that, in today’s cruel and random world, it is OK not to be OK.

Anyone needing assistance or wanting to learn more about Petersgate Counselling Centre should contact us on 027 349 7712, 9am to 9pm Monday to Thursdays and 9am to 5pm Fridays.

Gray Crawford | Petersgate Business Manager