A MENTAL HEALTH charity based in Whiteinch has seen a 50 per cent increase in people requiring their services since the start of the coronavirus lockdown. 

Healing for the Heart would normally help up to 100 people per week.

Now, they are catering for up to 150 people across Scotland on a weekly basis as they move their services to online. 

CEO, Shona Stirling, said: "What we have been seeing is that those who had existing issues with mental health, they have become exasperated and their problems have become heightened with this. 

"Those who didn’t realise they had mental health issues are now struggling. It’s often triggering unresolved problems that have happened in the past.

"We have been dealing with a lot of grief and the sense of hopelessness that has been going around since the outbreak, too."

Healing for the Heart is offering some of their original services online, but have established new programmes to ensure people don't feel isolated.

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Shona said: "We can offer our original services such as counselling, art therapy and adverse childhood experience and trauma workshops online.

"But we have also introduced our Big Conversation, which allows people to join into a virtual conversation once a week based around a subject that relates back to mental health.

"Our new email service is also offering those in need hints, tips, advice and inspiration in terms of lockdown.

"Since moving our services online before the beginning of lockdown, it has offered us a real opportunity and has allowed us to do things that we would never have thought of doing before."

Looking ahead, the charity plans to maintain their online services once lockdown is lifted.

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Past the pandemic, they are hoping to help frontline workers who may have suffered trauma during the outbreak.

Shona said: "Geographically, we sit in the shadows of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. We’ve had a number of students who are heading to the front line early contact us for some support.

"So we have become acutely aware of support needed for frontline workers coming out of this in particular.

“Moving forward, when the trauma starts to decrease is when people’s mental health starts to get worse and they start to have issues. So we are expecting to support frontline workers beyond the pandemic.

"We work with what’s in front of us, if we can. We want to push that message of hope to people that things can change for the better.”