Mental health resources needed for 'herd resilience'
The leader of a charity for struggling families yesterday stressed the need to have reliable mental health resources as the island entered a full year handling the coronavirus pandemic.
Sandy De Silva, the executive director of The Family Centre, said that these resources would help strengthen “herd resilience” and help Bermudians bounce back from the isolating affects of safety regulations.
She added that other factors, such as access to reliable remote learning and financial support, were also crucial for families.
Dr De Silva said: “Covid-19 social isolations measures have had a profound impact on the psychological and mental wellbeing of individuals globally due to the disruption of our day-to-day lives.
“In particular, the last few weeks in Bermuda have been a blow to the psyche of our community – all of the critical numbers have unfortunately gone up rather than down, except for the economy.”
Dr De Silva was speaking through the Zoom app during a meeting with the Hamilton Rotary Club.
She said that stress caused by the disruption to our normal lives put many people in a “constant state of alert”, which had side effects such as a lack of emotional regulation and higher instances of anxiety or depression.
Dr De Silva added that these problems had been reflected in the “spike” of children who enrolled in Family Centre’s youth outreach programmes last year.
She said that they had also seen a 25 per cent increase in Family Court cases, a 30 per cent increase in domestic violence protection orders and a 19 per cent increase in juvenile criminal cases.
Dr De Silva said: “Thus far in 2021 we have already experienced more than a 50 per cent increase in requests for counselling services as families can no longer suffer in silence.”
She added: “Antisocial behaviour and violence is much more likely to occur when there are significant financial, societal and emotional stressors present.”
Dr De Silva said that the pandemic had disproportionally effected low-income families and stressed the importance of non-profit organisations that offered counselling and other efforts free of charge.
She added: “This further emphasises the critical role that Family Centre and other human service non-profits pay in the community.
“We do not want families forfeiting access to getting help because they think that it will cost money.
“We continually put the message out there that we are open for business, want to help and have the expertise and resources to do so.”