Published: 12:01, 13 January 2021
| Updated: 12:17, 13 January 2021
Tighter restrictions on social mixing could lead to a "mass bloodbath" among already vulnerable people, a mental health support group has warned.
Deal-based Talk it Out says those struggling with depression and anxiety are already “drowning under the strains of Covid, and they fear a clamp down on outdoor meet-ups while exercising could lead to deaths.
It comes as health secretary Matt Hancock said the government could ban meeting another person outside if too many people keep breaking the rule.
Currently the rules allow two individuals from different households to meet outdoors for socially distanced exercise.
Group founder Tracy Carr said the permitted socially distanced walks in the fresh air with one other person are saving the lives of a few of her members.
She added: “If that’s taken away we’re going to lose so many people.
“We’re hanging on to so many people at Talk it Out at the moment and if they take that away it’s going to be a mass bloodbath. It’s really really frightening me. I honestly don’t know how we’re going to keep people going.
“I have had messages from members really concerned.
“People that had worked so hard to get outdoors are now becoming recluses again.
“We are living in fear in a world that already scared us.”
The pandemic has already taken the lives of some of her members.
Devastatingly this means there will be “three empty seats” when meetings at Deal Ability in Hope Road are allowed to resume.
The casualties include that of Liz Masters, a member since Talk it Out launched in 2011, who died of Coronavirus in May at William Harvey Hospital in Ashford.
The circumstances surrounding the deaths of two other members are still to be ascertained.
But members are mourning them from their homes, many of them in complete isolation and battling existing mental health complications.
The Mercury protects the identities of those who have spoken out.
One member is writing poetry to help cope with the emotions of worry and fear and isolation.
In one of his verses he said the beauty of the world is now hidden behind a mask.
"As beautiful as the world be
I see no beauty to see.
All the world's beauty is hidden.
To see it in its beauty is a great task
When the world's beauty, to me is hidden by a mask..."
Another member, said rules and procedures from the pandemic relating to work have brought back the trauma of being trapped in an abusive relationship.
That member said having to do weekly Covid tests reopened mental wounds and explained:
“Just the physical gagging that happens when putting the swab down my throat makes me recall being throttled.
“The fact that my boss told me I basically had no choice but to do the test was also a great trigger for the re-emergence of the level of control I had been under in an abusive relationship.”
For now Mrs Carr and co-founder Marie Jordan, a retired psychotherapist continue to put out a message of hope.
In a joint post to members, they said: “As many peope say: ‘We are all in the same storm but in different boats’ with some paddling with two oars, some have none and some are literally drowning under the strains of Covid.
"We are thinking of those people battling depression and anxiety, those with severe mental health issues, those who have lost jobs, children developing anxiety problems because they are worried about not seeing their friends and having to constantly adjust to issues with exams, schooling etc.
“Talk it out is trying to help as many as we can through keeping our confidential page going, video calls, phone calls, distributing food parcels as a way of checking on members and non-members.
With this recent lockdown and perhaps more restrictions being advised by government this week, Talk it Out will endeavour to help the more vulnerable people and we will carry on up ‘til bright times are here again.”