Mental Health and Covid-19 NWCH

2020 is a year like no other.  With such drastic changes happening so quickly for the country, there have been big adjustments to be made both in our day to day lives as well as mentally. 

When lockdown began we took the decision to go online – we simply could not let our clients go without the much-needed counselling sessions. It was incredibly important to us that we could offer help to anyone who needed it. This came with its own challenges – ensuring that our clients were able to speak confidentially to us and that our counsellors had the correct technology and private space as well as ensuring the platforms we were using were safe.

We worked hard to allow our clients to be able to access their much-needed counselling and to support any individuals and businesses that needed our help.

We reopened for face-to-face appointments as soon as we were able to and have robust policies in place to keep everyone safe.  We have installed screens, providing face masks and face coverings, hand sanitiser is available and we are only using the larger rooms so that there is enough distance during sessions.

Lockdown was and still is a new experience for everyone. Despite the fact that we were all experiencing the same lockdown restrictions, everyone’s experience of it was vastly different. There were children missing the structure and support of the school and their friends, parents homeschooling their children whilst trying to work full time, key workers supporting their community by continuing to work as well as people facing uncertainty about their jobs – and these are just a few of the many scenarios. When you consider the huge transitions people made in such a small time, it is understandable that so many people experienced negative feelings such as anxiety, stress, low mood/depression or loneliness, some for the first time in their lives.

For many people, these feelings are often temporary, however, if left untreated these feelings can develop and soon become overwhelming. It is important to seek help before this point – which is why we wanted to keep our services available during the pandemic. A recent survey by Nuffield Health reported that around 80% of British people working from home now feel lockdown has had a negative impact on their mental health, while a quarter of those (25%) said they were finding it difficult to cope with the emotional challenges of isolation. It is vital at times like this, that we check in with those around us and reach out if we feel negative emotions.

During difficult times we can try to protect our mental health – here are just a few tips:

Read-only reputable news – ensure you have the facts and don’t allow yourself to be taken in by fake news.

Keep in touch with your friends & family – Social media is a great way to keep in touch with those around you, but try and limit your screen time and avoid scrolling through social platforms for too long.

Keep active – Although there were restrictions on exercise at first, enjoying the outdoors can really boost your mood and allow you to feel free from the confines of your home.

Plan your day – Having a plan can help you to feel more in control, especially when you cannot control what is happening in the outside world.

Try meditation – Meditation & yoga are a great way to relax and clear your mind to focus on the present.

Sleep – Although you may find it difficult to sleep right now, it is important that you try as best you can. Avoiding technology before bed can help you to get a good night’s rest.

These tips are helpful, but no matter how small or insignificant you think your feelings are, it is important to seek professional help and advice sooner rather than later. You can have a free telephone consultation with us and find out more about our counselling services.

As and when the lockdown eases, it is important to understand that not everyone is feeling good about the situation. There is a lot of change and uncertainty, for people already battling with their mental health it can become even more stressful. If you are feeling worried or nervous about the ‘new normal’ it is important not to hide these feelings. Talk to someone about them or seek help from a professional if you need to.

No matter how small or insignificant you feel your problems might be, it is important to acknowledge and overcome these feelings in the right way.

If you need to speak to a qualified professional and experienced counsellor we can help you. You can arrange a free initial consultation and we aim to speak to you within 24 hours so there is no waiting around.

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Counsellors are celebrating winning a share of £150,000 of funding secured by Lincolnshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner for organisations supporting victims of domestic and sexual abuse.

The Lincoln-based NWCH (Naomi Watkins Counselling Hub) has received £11,000, as one of seven benefiting charitable organisations which have been forced to adapt their operations to continue helping their clients during the Coronavirus pandemic.

NWCH Chief Executive Officer Naomi Watkins-Ligudzinska and her team are thrilled to receive the grant, which comes at a time when they have been fully stretched to provide counselling support for 130 people a week, using the telephone and online systems, whilst having to put many others in need on to a waiting list for face-to-face therapy.

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Owner and co-founder of the phenomenally busy Lincoln-based Naomi Watkins Counselling Hub today pledged that her team would continue supporting hundreds of clients during the Coronavirus epidemic.

Owner Naomi Watkins-Ligudzinska said the Community Interest Company, whose team members are using their individual expertise to help around 100 people a week – who are suffering from anxiety, trauma, depression and complex mental health needs – are determined that people will not be left ‘high and dry.’

But she explained that the team is facing challenges because (unless the Chancellor intervenes) the CIC could find itself short of funds to carry on its work depending on how long the current crisis lasts.

“We are open and ready to support clients and businesses right now but we are transitioning to the use of telephone and Online options to maintain the level of service we provide. We feel this is vitally important.

“Every client – from children with their parents to elderly individuals – is assessed when they are referred to us and given a bespoke programme of support. That gives them some idea of how many sessions they might need to help them start getting their lives back on track.

“Obviously, in the current climate, we are concerned about everyone’s mental health, but we don’t want all the good work we have been doing with our current clients to be undone, when many of them are doing so well. This is why we are relying on telephone and online contact.

“Funding-wise we have had some wonderful grants over the past three years for specific aspects of our work. That support has helped us to counsel many more people in need from all walks of life.

“However, in a general sense, and thinking about the weeks ahead, we hope to see some Government intervention to help us in these unprecedented circumstances because the local Clinical Care Commissioning Group currently has no statutory obligation to finance us.

“Without this sort of support, we may have to reduce our help for clients due to potential financial pressures and that is the last thing we want.”

Naomi’s advice for everyone trying to manage their mental health under the Coronavirus, is prioritise your self-care, avoid excessive consumption of the media, focus on things you can control like staying home and handwashing, keep in touch with family and friends via telephone and online services. Eat well, stay hydrated, have a walk once a day, keep busy with things you enjoy doing.

For further information, please contact Naomi Watkins-Ligudzinska on 07772 532185

Naomi plans the trip of a lifetime!

Successful Lincoln counsellor Naomi Watkins is over the moon after scooping a highly prestigious research award!

Naomi, who is Chief Executive of the phenomenally busy NWCH (Naomi Watkins Counselling Hub) is thrilled to be among 150 privileged people across the UK honoured to receive a Churchill Fellowship.

And she is going to use her grant, from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, to visit Australia and New Zealand to carry out a six-weeks research project into suicide prevention.

Churchill Fellowships offer UK citizens a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel the world and research cutting-edge global solutions to important topical issues and explore innovative ideas and best practice in a practical subject of their choice.  The average grant is £6,000.

The Fellowships address contemporary issues, develop knowledge leaders and offer transformative opportunities to outstanding individuals.

“I am excited to be one of just 150 people to receive one of this year’s Fellowships. They attract a lot of competition.  I was one of 1,800 applicants, out of which just 250 people were interviewed before the final 150 were chosen,” said Naomi.

“I am planning to travel in May and my grant will cover my flights, accommodation and other essentials.

“I am keen to use my trip to carry out important research into suicide prevention, specifically for children and younger adults in the four-to-30 years old age group.  At NWCH we counsel people of all ages, but would like to run special projects designed to help troubled children in this category. I shall be researching ways of spotting signs of a person’s ideation or intention of ending their life by suicide.

“Many people think suicide mainly affects older adults, but there has been a rise in the number of younger people driven to end their own lives by suicide for various reasons. Suicide is the leading cause of death for 5-19yrs old (England ONS, 2018).

“This is a tragedy and, as counsellors, we are determined to do all we can to prevent this from happening,” said Naomi.

“I am looking forward to sharing my research findings with my colleagues at NWCH, where we have a team of 19 counsellors, six support staff and two therapy dogs.”

Naomi added that NWCH, which recorded 803 referrals for help since it started out in 2017 – and currently 500 appointments on its books every week – believes her research findings will also help to inform the Community Interest Company’s Suicide Prevention Conference, which is taking place at The Showroom in Lincoln on September 10 – World Suicide Day.

Lincolnshire Live & Chamber of Commerce

Lincolnshire live and the Lincolnshire chamber of commerce have written about our first-year celebration.

“A counselling hub based in Lincoln which supports children who have been victims of sexual abuse have celebrated a successful first year in business.”

More than 75 people made NWCH (Naomi Watkins Counselling Hub) first birthday celebrations extra memorable by raising more than nearly £1,200 for its life-changing work.