Report and article by ITV Granada Reports journalist Jahmal Williams-Thomas
Throughout the pandemic frontline workers across the region were forced to continue doing their jobs, putting their lives at risk.
As well as living with the physical effects of Covid, some continued to be affected psychologically and, with the pressures of keeping the country going, many suppressed the symptoms, knuckled down and carried on.
In response to the need for psychological support, The Lancashire and South Cumbria Resilience Hub in Chorley was launched.
At the time, it was the second hub to be launched in the country and provides therapy and support to those working in the public sector and assists them in getting back to work.
Who the hub helps:
Emergency services - including paramedics, police officers and firefighters
Care home workers
Education sector (public sector funded education)
Voluntary Community, Faith and Social Enterprise Sector
Public sector volunteers
Immediate family members
One person who has benefitted from the hub is psychiatric nurse Elaine Bowden. She was struck with covid and was admitted into a respiratory ward where she feared for her life.
Because of her medical background, she had an inside knowledge of the terminology being used by the NHS staff that were caring for her and had more of an understanding of what may have lay ahead for her.
After leaving hospital, it wasn’t just the physical effects that lasted.
Looking back on her experience she said: “Cognitively I was very impaired. Psychotic experiences, I was seeing things. I thought I was dying.
"I’m quite insightful generally, being a psychiatric nurse, about my own mental health but this is completely different."
She was encouraged by a colleague to access the Resilience Hub, and once she filled out the online self-assessment, she was offered face to face sessions with a trained counsellor.
She said: "I think the work I did here kind of helped me piece together what had happened to me and helped to deal with those flashbacks and distressing thoughts.
"I can honestly say it saved me. Psychologically it saved me. I would not like to think where I’d be if I had not gone through this process. "
Since it opened, almost 1,000 public sector workers have been referred, but manager Gita Bhutani wants to see more using the service.
She said: "I think having mental health services available for everyone and easy to access for everyone is really, really important - this is one service that’s staff focused because of some of the challenges staff have in accessing services.
"I think this opportunity about encouraging people to take up what we’ve got available is a great one."
More information about the hub and how to self-refer is available here.