Home > HSE Psychosocial response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Health Service Executive. (2021) HSE Psychosocial response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Dublin: Health Service Executive.

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The Covid-19 pandemic has caused an unparalleled health emergency across our society and is having ongoing psychological and social wellbeing impacts on individuals, communities and Irish healthcare workers (HCWs)3. In particular, these effects have been amplified by the high mortality rates in acute hospitals and long-term stay settings, such as residential and nursing homes. Literature published on this impact also highlights that for some people significant psychological and social problems may arise, resulting in longer-lasting distress (Durcan et al, 2020; Allan et al, 2020), which, without appropriate support, can lead to mental health problems such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and addiction. Such impact may also cause personal relationship, family, domestic or work difficulties. 

[PDF p.58] 6.2.8 Drug and alcohol issues and Covid-19

Those with drug and or alcohol issues are particularly challenged by the pandemic, due to the requirement for social isolation (O’Driscoll, 2020), and reduced access to services. Priority was given to maintaining the supply of medication to people with addictions during the initial stages of the Covid-19 crisis. For example, there are over 10,000 people in receipt of methadone treatment, a medication which has to be consumed daily and necessitates very frequent attendance at clinics and pharmacies for many people. Psychosocial addiction treatments, including one-to-one counselling, group therapy and key working and care planning were initially compromised as mental health services were limited (as outlined above). 

The closure of, or reduced access to, some buildings and the guidance on social distancing and use of PPE complicated all aspects of usual services. These were adapted using telephone-based interactions and some limited use of telehealth approaches. Key goals in addiction recovery treatment include the building of social capital and social connection. Covid-19 and the restrictions it imposed upon social interaction and the structure of day-to-day life have compromised the ability of services and clients in the building of recovery capital.

Appendix 4: CHO and National mapping of current psychosocial services and supports - including addiction.

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