To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from May 9 -15, The Manna House Counselling Service in St Giles Street, Northampton, released figures showing more than 750 counselling sessions a quarter have been demanded over the last two years.
This is a 10 percent increase on previous years, which the service attributes to the ongoing impacts of the pandemic.
The additional sessions cost the charity an extra £38,000 last year from a total turnover of £180,000.
CEO John Nightingale and his team raised this extra funding for one-year from a variety of sources – including a Covid Relief Fund, The Northamptonshire Community Foundation and various Northampton-based charities, but now they need to build longer-term, sustainable, funding to continue to meet this need.
John said: “The increase we have seen in the demand for our services largely reflects the Government data on mental health before and during the pandemic.
“This shows the proportion of adults aged 18 and over reporting a clinically significant level of psychological distress increased from 20 percent in 2019 to 29.5 percent in April 2020.
“Although they fell back down to 21.3 percent by September 2020, there was a subsequent increase to 27.1 percent in January 2021 and these ‘up and down’ changes coincide with the periods of national lockdown.
“Inevitably, these increases in people experiencing mental health problems are bound to result in an increased demand for mental health services on the ground.
“We are very proud to have been able to contribute to the ongoing pandemic effort but unfortunately our funding has not kept pace with this increased demand, like so many other front-line service charities.”
The counselling service will celebrate its fortieth anniversary in 2025 and has already helped 5,500 clients - through 57,000 counselling sessions since it began in 1985.
Starting with just one volunteer working one hour a day, with a desk and a telephone in the basement of the Manna House Bookshop, the service has grown considerably to 29 professionally trained counsellors offering more than 250 sessions a month.