A social care charity has warned demand for mental health services is “soaring” in Aberdeen amid the Covid-19 crisis.
VSA, which is the largest provider of mental health support in the city, said the impact of the ongoing global pandemic will have long-lasting consequences for people’s mental health.
The charity already provides a range of outreach and residential services such as school-based counsellors – and it has seen demand increase as a result of the pandemic.
Chief executive Dr Kenneth Simpson said: “Seventy-five per cent of people develop a mental health condition before the age of 24. The impact of the coronavirus and the emergency measures to help flatten the curve is causing children and adults to feel overwhelmed and has increased people’s anxiety now.
“At VSA we are working to expand our mental health services and are developing a range of digital toolkits to help support more people who need our help.
“We will potentially be living with the consequences of this outbreak for decades to come – the questions we now need to ask is ‘do we have a mental health ticking time bomb?’ And ‘how do we come together to identify and expand appropriate early mental health intervention for children and adults?’.”
VSA is currently running the Changing Lives Campaign, supported by the Evening Express, to build a £3.2 million mental health facility in the heart of the city.
It will use one of VSA’s highly-regarded mental health support techniques, known as the recovery model, which empowers the individual to take control of their lives and understand how to live with their condition.
The charity encourages the people it supports to set goals, such as developing a hobby or engaging in social activities, and draws up plans for each individual.
And VSA is aiming to raise the final £500,000 required to make the new unit a reality.
Dr Simpson said: “At VSA we have committed to investing further in the mental health services we provide and an example of that commitment is our new mental well-being facility. Now more than ever we need the people of Aberdeen to rally behind us to help us get this in-demand facility open.”
The charity’s director of external relations, Jennifer Mitchell, added: “We are so close to our campaign target, and we are on the final push to fundraise the remaining £500,000 we need to get this facility open.
“The generosity people have shown to date has been incredible, and we hope that the people of Aberdeen will come together to get us over the finish line so that can make our vision a reality.
“It is a really difficult time for many households and businesses across Aberdeen, and if people can step forward to help support us then this would be fantastic and greatly appreciated by the vulnerable people whose lives we help change.”
One of VSA’s mental health service users, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “I struggled with addiction to alcohol and had crippling anxiety
“The support from VSA has been incredible, it changed my life around.
“I am now in recovery and VSA worked with me to build my confidence and teach me techniques and tools I can use to help manage my anxiety. Before VSA, I didn’t think life was worth living, but now I can honestly say that VSA has saved my life.
“Although mental health is more openly talked about and recognised in the community, there is still a lot of stigmas attached to it. I would strongly encourage anyone who is feeling overwhelmed to reach out and get support, it can and will change your life.”