A mental health support scheme has extended its services offering free counselling and therapy to social workers across Wales. The project, Canopi, was designed by Cardiff University around 10 years ago in an effort to help doctors who were struggling with stress.
During the pandemic, these services expanded to supporting all NHS staff who were dealing with the added pressure and uncertainty brought about by coronavirus. While 770 people accessed Canopi in 2020, the organisation also received numerous enquiries from social workers who wanted to know if they could use it too.
With the help of yearly funding from the Welsh Government, Canopi took the leap to expand its services last Friday. Since this launch, around 15 people have already signed up. “We always had the aspiration to help more people and not just doctors. The challenge was getting people to recognise the need and ability of our service,” said Thomas Kitchen, deputy director of Canopi.
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Mr Kitchen hopes that the expansion of Canopi’s support is a step towards tackling big challenges for keyworkers in both health and social workspaces. He added: “Staff have had a difficult time during the pandemic, we offered 1,600 people support in the last year. Now we are trying to make sure we deliver the best service for them.
“There’s still a stigma of mental health within workplaces across the country. We want to make sure that these people always have somewhere to turn to. We’re free and we also work at an arms-length from NHS services to provide reassurance about confidentiality.”
Canopi offers virtual and face-to-face consultations, including a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) from an accredited therapist. Individuals can also access peer support and self-help guides in areas such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“We offer personalised help that’s primarily here to support people. We want to create a more equal service irrespective of backgrounds and jobs where everyone is helped,” Mr Kitchen said. You can find out more about what Canopi offers, here. To follow more stories about the biggest issues in Wales, subscribe to our Wales Matter podcast here.