Local talking therapy services are urging people to reach out for help to talk about their feelings following the impact of coronavirus.

Mind Matters, a free NHS talking therapy service provided by Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, made rapid changes to the way they work during the pandemic, with a range of support now available online.

Anyone can be at increased risk of stress or mental health difficulties at this uncertain time. Isolation and loneliness, bereavement, income cuts or unemployment, poor sleep and maladaptive coping strategies such as alcohol misuse are all exacerbating factors.

Jackie Rose, Clinical Services Manager for Mind Matters Surrey, said: “We know that bottling up problems can have a longer term impact on your health. There is also concern that many people feel worried about overburdening the NHS and are missing out on the support that is available. We could be living with the psychological consequences of this pandemic for many years to come which is why early mental health intervention is crucial.”

Woking resident, Sam Priston had been receiving face-to-face counselling and since lockdown has moved to telephone sessions. She said: “My counsellor is caring and easy to talk to and has really helped me to manage with all the stress of recent events. She made the transition to telephone sessions easy and because I have children it gives me more flexibility so I actually now prefer it to face-to-face sessions.”

Therapists have also been adapting to tailor the service to meet people’s needs. Fiona Prior, Therapist at Mind Matters, said: “Even where some clients have found the shift to Skype or telephone work difficult – we’ve been able to give tools and techniques to help with this.

“People can refer themselves online without the need to speak to a GP. The feedback I’ve had from clients shows they really value speaking to someone they don’t know, in confidence, about whatever is troubling them and knowing they won’t be judged.”

Mind Matters offers short courses of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and counselling for mild to moderate mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, panic attacks and stress.

New programmes have been developed for people affected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic – including people who find existing anxieties or depression have been made worse by the current climate.

Appointments with specially trained psychological wellbeing practitioners are available via phone and by secure Skype video conferencing.

For more information and to find out how to refer yourself visit www.mindmattersnhs.co.uk and click on ‘How to Refer’ or call the team on 0300 330 5450.

Find out about other talking therapy services and virtual mental health and emotional wellbeing support, including coffee mornings and tailored exercise classes, at www.healthysurrey.org.uk/virtualwellbeing

You can also access NHS talking therapy services in Surrey Heartlands from the following providers:

IESO Digital Health

Talking Therapies Surrey Online

We Are With You

DHC Talking Therapies

Centre for Psychology