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45% rise in people seeking mental health support post-lockdown

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An NHS mental health and wellbeing service has seen a 45% increase in the number of people seeking support after lockdown restrictions were eased across the country.

SilverCloud Wales is a free online therapy service designed to help people aged 16 and over, experiencing mild to moderate anxiety, depression or stress, manage their mental health and wellbeing.

There’s no need to be referred by a GP – people can sign up and access the NHS Wales service anytime, anywhere, on their smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer.

New data from SilverCloud Wales shows that 45% more people signed up for the service after schools and non-essential retailers reopened on the 12th April compared with the two weeks prior.

The same data also shows a 14% rise in people signing up for help with managing social anxiety after lockdown restriction eased on 12th April.

The data indicates the existence of post-lockdown anxiety and that people need help managing the transition from lockdown to ‘normal’ life.

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1 in 4 adults struggle with mental health challenges, like feeling low, anxious or stressed. and it was anticipated the demand for services would increase due to the impact of COVID19.

In a bid to meet that demand, and following a pilot in Powys, SilverCloud Wales online therapy service was rolled out across Wales in September 2020. 

Fionnuala Clayton, Psychological Assistant and Clinical Online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Co-ordinator for SilverCloud Wales, said services like SilverCloud Wales were proving to be a lifeline for many.

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SilverCloud has seen a 45% increase in people seeking support for their mental health post lockdown (Image: Liza Summer / Pexels.com)

She says: “SilverCloud Wales offers people an online space to explore their personal challenges and experiences in a safe and confidential way.

“Returning to ‘normal’ can be just as challenging as entering lockdown.

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“While we have all faced different challenges depending on our age, vulnerability status, employment and social circles, what we all have is a collective understanding that Covid has had a real impact on our daily lives.

“Common challenges we are hearing from people using the service include:

  • Finding a work-life balance for those who have worked continuously through the pandemic, including those working from home.
  • Returning to work and how to cope with reservations for those who have been in and out due to restrictions, furlough and shielding.
  • Concerns about returning to ‘normal’, socialising, and the rise of social anxiety symptoms relating to Covid measures being relaxed
  • Loneliness and feeling isolated, and the impact the pandemic has had on our connections with loved ones.
  • Those who are struggling with routine, low mood and sometimes consequently selfesteem and body image concerns.”
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SilverCloud Wales uses Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help people manage their mental health and wellbeing. CBT works by encouraging people to challenge the way they think and behave so they’re better equipped to deal with life’s problems.

The service offers help for anxiety, depression, stress, sleep, money worries & more. Users choose one of the easy-to-use, interactive online programmes to complete over 12 weeks and for best results are advised to use the service 15-20 minutes a day, three to four times a week.

Although an online self-help service, SilverCloud Wales is backed up and supported by a team of psychologists and online cognitive behavioural therapy co-ordinators.

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Cognitive Behaviour Therapy helps people manage their mental health and wellbeing (Image: energepic.com)

Ms Clayton says: “SilverCloud Wales users are supported through their chosen online programme by SilverCloud Supporters who have psychological backgrounds and know how to get the best out of the programme.

“Alongside our main programmes, SilverCloud Supporters can unlock additional modules if we feel a user needs more support in certain areas.

“These modules are truly wonderful in terms of additional support. The communication and relationship module is particularly useful in understanding the communication styles of ourselves and others, and it’s become even more important that we understand these as our communication and methods of contact have become much more virtual.

“No-one should feel like they are alone with their problems. It has been fantastic to see SilverCloud Wales online therapy reach so many people, not just across Powys, where it started, but now available to any patient or resident in Wales.”

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Ms Clayton said Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs 10-16th May, 2021, is a timely reminder for people to prioritise their wellbeing post-lockdown.

She says: “Use the resources you have to help you manage in times of stress. Resources can be a number of different things, including environmental, such as green space and leisure facilities, and social, such as family and friends.

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“Making connections with the outside world and learning new techniques to manage how you’re feeling can really help.”

To find out more and sign up, visit: https://nhswales.silvercloudhealth.com/signup/.


SilverCloud Wales is supporting Mental Health Awareness Week, 10-16th May, 2021.

Here are three mental health and wellbeing tips from the SilverCloud Wales team.

ONE

“When stressed, it’s common to drop all of the things that keep us well, such as exercising or spending time with family and friends. Use the resources at your disposal to help you manage in times of stress. Resources can be: environmental (green space, leisure facilities etc); social (family, friends etc); financial (steady income, savings etc); personal (e.g. your personal strengths). You can find more on this in our Space from Stress programme.” 
Fionnuala, SilverCloud Wales.

TWO

“Practise self-care by giving yourself something to look forward to every day. This can be anything from enjoying your favourite brew with a biscuit, sitting down to watch your favourite movie, going for a walk or listening to your favourite album – whatever you find enjoyment in. Reach out if you are feeling alone – to a family member, friend or even 24/7 helplines like the CALL Mental Health Helpline for Wales. There are people who will always want to hear from you.” 
Hollie, SilverCloud Wales.

THREE

“Self-care is crucial during a time of crisis. Looking after yourself is not a luxury, it is an essential part of maintaining your energy levels and your resilience to stress. As lockdown eases, why not spend some time thinking about the things you need to do to look after yourself, as well as the things you can realistically do in the current circumstances. Perhaps you could focus on starting a new exercise routine, take up a new hobby, or call a friend/family member for a chat? This season, look after yourself first.” Catrin, SilverCloud Wales.

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(Lead image: Andrew Neel / Pexels.com)

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Music

Singleton Hospital receptionist escapes to the park to fulfil DJ dream

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Swapping the hospital reception desk for his DJ decks will see Ben Vincent fulfil a dream this weekend in front of thousands of music fans.

He will play his biggest gig yet with the opening set of the Escape Festival in Singleton Park.

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Ben, 25, said: “The nerves are already kicking in but I just can’t wait to get up there and perform.

“I can’t contain my excitement – it’s a dream come true.

“Having the chance to play at the event in any form is a huge honour but to play the opening set on the main stage is a whole new level of excitement for me.

Ben – performing as DJ Vincent – will swap Singleton Hospital to play the Escape Festival at next door Singleton Park (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

“It’s not every day you get an opportunity like this and if you could tell 17-year-old me that I’d be playing the main stage in any festival, I’d have cried with excitement.

“This festival has been running in Swansea since 2000 and has been a huge part of the Welsh music scene for so long.

“It showcases heaps of talents from local artists to huge names from across all genres in the UK. Having been as a punter in the past, it’s extra special for me because I know what an incredible event it is from start to finish.”

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Ben’s big opportunity comes after he won a nationwide competition to find upcoming talent.

Now his stage name – DJ Vincent – will be in lights alongside some of the greats of the DJ world including Judge Jules, Lisa Lashes and Sub Focus.

He’s come a long way since starting out his DJ journey in his bedroom eight years ago.

Ben has played the local circuits in Swansea, along with appearing in Bristol and, most recently, in Prague.

“It started out as just a hobby after watching major festivals like Tomorrowland, Ultra Music festival and UK festivals such as Creamfields and Boomtown online,” he said.

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“Music has always been my passion so it inspired me to give it a go and just mess around with songs at home.

“A few years later I was fortunate to get an opportunity with a local music company called HEFT. Following two other shows with them I was asked to play regularly and I haven’t looked back.”

As the big day draws nearer, Ben will be mixing his records with his day job in Singleton Assessment Unit.

Ben at his day job, behind the reception desk at Singleton Hospital (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

He’s been part of the SAU reception team since February, and has received a lot of support from his colleagues.

He said: “I am one of six receptionists in a busy department. The team is like a little family, and they’re really happy that I’ve got the opening slot.

“As a team we book patients in to the unit on arrival as well as looking after inpatient files and records.

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“I joined because I wanted something challenging and where every day is different – SAU certainly checks those boxes.”

And as for his music collection for Saturday, he’s close to finalising his 45-minute set, which is predominantly drum and bass.

“There are a lot of feel-good summery tracks in my set and few other extras in there as well,” he said.

“I’ve got some tracks from artists such as Wilkinson, Kanine and High Contrast just to name a few – I’m really happy with what I’ve got planned.

“Hopefully the crowd will like the set and I’ll get a good reaction.”

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(Lead image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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Coronavirus

Autumn COVID booster rollout to start in September with new Moderna Omicron jab

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Eligible adults in Wales have begun to be invited for their COVID-19 autumn booster this week, with brand new Moderna Omicron jab being offered.

The Welsh Government say the roll-out will begin at the start of September 2022 to help boost the immunity of those at higher risk from COVID-19, improving their protection against severe illness and to protect the NHS over winter 2022-23.

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They are also urging people to take up the flu vaccine when offered to protect against seasonal flu.

A single dose of COVID-19 vaccine will be offered to residents in a care home for older adults and staff working in care homes for older adults and frontline health and social care workers.

All adults aged 50 years and over, people aged five to 49 years in a clinical risk group, people aged five to 49 years who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression and people aged 16-49 who are carers will also be offered the autumn COVID booster.

Those eligible aged over 18 will be offered the newly approved Moderna vaccine which protects from both the original COVID virus and the Omicron variant.

Under 18s will be offered the Pfizer vaccine.

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The Welsh Government say that both vaccines will be offered at least three months after a previous dose.

Eligible adults will mostly be invited via letter to attend a vaccination centre, GP or pharmacy for their autumn booster vaccination.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “As the UK moves from a period of pandemic emergency response to recovery, our focus will be on protecting those in society who continue to be more at risk of severe COVID-19.

“Vaccines have had an enormous impact on the course of the pandemic and have helped to weaken the link between the virus, serious illness, hospitalisations and death. They have saved countless lives and given us the freedom and confidence to restart our lives.

“I urge anyone who is eligible and invited to have the autumn booster this year to take up the offer and I thank everyone working on the vaccination programme in Wales.”

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Health boards are being advised to give both the COVID-19 and flu vaccination at the same time where possible, particularly for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), to maximise take up and ensure more people are protected this winter.

The UK is the first country to approve use of the new Moderna bivalent COVID-19 vaccine that protects against both the original strain and Omicron variant of the virus.

It was approved for use as a booster jab on adults by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on Monday (15 August).

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Sport

Swansea paramedic to captain Wales’ hockey team in World Cup

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A Welsh Ambulance Service worker will be taking to the hockey pitch to captain Wales in the upcoming 35–40-year-olds World Cup, in Nottingham.

Cath Fuge, 39, a paramedic for the Trust’s Hazardous Area Response Team (HART), based in Swansea will start her competition today.

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After the pandemic and rupturing her patella tendon in 2020 hindered her training, Cath is ready to play, potentially, her last competition.

She said: “I was off work for four to five months after my injury, but I focused on my rehab, and I was back training in under a year.

“I played the home nations last year, and I’ve just been trying to build on that.

“I count myself quite lucky, that I’m back up and running.”

Cath started working for the Trust as an Emergency Medical Technician 16 years ago, joining HART in 2012.

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She said: “In HART, we train together if we can, and I really like that team environment.

“Sport and fitness in general have been good for me.”

Cath who usually plays in the position of centre midfield (CM), will be starting the tournament for Wales against Scotland.

“I play different positions, but I usually play CM as I’m an attacking player.

“I’m nervous but also really excited.

“When we played the home nations recently, I was playing against Olympic players.”

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The 2022 World Cup in Nottingham will be taking place from 12 to 21 August.

Cath said: “It’s going to be huge; I think there is fifty teams coming over.

“Wales are always the underdogs.

“On Saturday it will be Wales against England, which is always a big match.

“I’m very honoured to keep the captaincy for this year and I can’t wait.”

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Cath will be supported by her partner, mum, and dad, along with other family and friends.

(Lead image: Wales Ambulance Service Trust)

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