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Crisis reports surge during lockdown

Crisis reports surge during lockdown

Wednesday 29 April 2020

Crisis reports surge during lockdown


Reports of islanders harming themselves or neglecting their health and hygiene have surged by 50% over the last two weeks, sparking concerns about the impact of lockdown on mental health.

Police have taken 230 welfare calls since the island went into lockdown on 30 March, which represents 80 more incidents than during the same period last year.

They're now urging islanders to look out for their neighbours, loved ones and friends.

Detective Superintendent Stewart Gull, Vice Chair of the Safeguarding Board told Express that the calls represent a cross-section of people - from elderly or frail people to islanders with substance abuse issues. While some of the people were known to local authorities, others were not.    

“Some of the calls will be from third parties, some will be from members of the public who have seen them out and about and have concerns,” Mr Gull explained.

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Pictured: Detective Superintendent Stewart Gull, Vice Chair of the Safeguarding Board.

“Some individuals also contact us to say they are in crisis. Some will be individuals indicating they are harming themselves. We want to avoid any individuals getting to point of crisis if we can intervene early we stand a better chance of helping them.” 

Police are working with local charities, adult social care, the Drug and Alcohol service and the Mental Health team to answer the calls they receive. 

For those who already experiencing loneliness, the force said, social distancing requirements can exacerbate their feelings of isolation. 

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Pictured: Islanders are being asked to contact the police or other services if they have concerns about someone self-neglecting.

While everyone may feel lonely from time to time, long periods of loneliness or social isolation can have a negative impact on a person’s physical, mental and social health: 

  • Physical symptoms – aches and pains, headaches, illness or worsening of medical conditions.
  • Mental health conditions – increased risk of depression, anxiety, paranoia or panic attacks.
  • Low energy – tiredness or lack of motivation.
  • Sleep problems – difficulty getting to sleep, waking frequently or sleeping too much.
  • Diet problems – loss of appetite, sudden weight gain or loss.
  • Substance use – Increased consumption of alcohol, smoking, medications, drugs.
  • Negative feelings – feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness or thoughts about suicide. 

The police are therefore urging islanders to help look after the vulnerable who may be isolated or self-neglecting.

“We have seen a sharp increase of welfare calls since social distancing has been introduced which is perhaps understandable but this is why it is even more important that the community pulls together and do not assume that somebody else is looking after them or that somebody else will make the call,” Mr Gull said. 

“Take personal responsibility, it is better to be safe than sorry. If you are unable to make contact, contact services.”

Mr Gull said it was important for the community to act as “eyes and ears” for the Police and to get in touch if they see anything of concern. 

“Services cannot be everywhere they can’t see everybody,” he said.

“If you are aware of someone who lives on their own, who may be isolated, who maybe a bit of a recluse, who perhaps self neglects, maybe unwittingly does not look after themselves, they are not careful about their cleanliness; if you are not seeing or hearing from them, try and contact them and then the services.

“Social distancing and compliance is very important but that does not mean there should not be any social contact. We encourage neighbours, family and friends to make contact.” 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has now switched from using the term 'social distancing' to 'physical distancing' to remind people that they are still able to be 'social' and remain in contact with others without having to be in close physical proximity to them.

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Pictured: WHO has changed its language to remind people that distancing can still be 'social', such as through the use of technology.

In a briefing, WHO's Infectious diseases epidemiologist Dr Maria Van Kerkhove described "keeping the physical distance from people so that we can prevent the virus from transferring to one another" as "absolutely essential", but added: "It doesn't mean that socially we have to disconnect from our loved ones, from our family."

She continued: "Technology right now has advanced so greatly that we can keep connected in many ways without actually physically being in the same room or physically being in the same space with people... We're changing to say physical distance and that's on purpose because we want people to still remain connected.

"So find ways to do that, find ways through the internet and through different social media to remain connected because your mental health going through this is just as important as your physical health."

If you are concerned for the welfare of an individual, please contact the following services...

  • Adult Safeguarding - Single Point of Referral (SPOR) – phone 444440 or email SPOR@health.gov
  • Mental Health Community Team - phone 443250 or email JAMHSReferralPathway@health.gov.je
  • Or in an emergency call the States of Jersey Police or Jersey Ambulance Service on 999

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