EAST AYRSHIRE mental health services have reacted to warnings that more people may struggle as lockdown restrictions ease.

At least seven in 10 people in Scotland are feeling anxious or concerned about other people not following guidelines and many are concerned about socialising again after three months in lockdown, according to a Scottish government poll.

Stuart Dudgeon, support worker at Crossreach which run mental health groups across East Ayrshire, says COVID-19 has had a major impact on people’s confidence.

Stuart said: “A lot of the people we work with are vulnerable and have been shielding so we’re starting to see the effects of being in the house for three months.

“It’s set a lot of people back.

“A lot of our work involves getting people out the house and involved in the community but people are now finding the thought of going back out really stressful.

“It’s like lockdown worked too well and now people are terrified to get back out especially if they are struggling with depression and anxiety.”

Mental health groups advise those anxious about the next steps to talk to others, exercise, prioritise a good night’s sleep and maintain sensible alcohol consumption.

Stuart says Crossreach is looking to roll out more services in Cumnock to help those in need.

Stuart said: “We run an over 65s group in Cumnock on Friday, a lunch group on Wednesday and we’re looking to start a community group and a young people’s group too.

“We’re trying to have a positive influence on people’s lives and build their confidence up.

“If you haven’t been out the house in three months, don’t go somewhere crowded without someone supporting you. If shops stress you out, leave it for a few weeks.

“It’s been a real challenge but I think we’ve helped keep people’s heads above water.

“Coming out of lockdown, we’ll continue to do that.”

Dr John Mitchell, Principal Medical Officer and Consultant Psychiatrist, said: “Although there are practical things we can do to help ourselves cope over the coming weeks, remember that help is available if needed.

“We’ve never had to deal with a situation like this before, so be kind to yourself and to others, and reach out if you need to talk to someone.

“Support is there.”

For services in your area, visit their website crossreach.org.uk

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