Gosport mental health worker says a challenging 12 months, including losing four family members, has made her stronger

SHE dealt with the loss of four family members, took on extra caring responsibilities, supported her husband who had eye tumours and was made redundant, managed her mental health team and had dinner on the table at 6pm every night for a daughter she was home-schooling.

Saturday, 23rd January 2021, 7:00 am

Lockdown and the Covid-19 pandemic has affected lives up and down the country and mental health worker Emma Dunbar from Gosport is among those who have faced a challenging time and realised she needed to seek support for herself.

But now the 38-year-old, who is the Solent Recovery College Manager at charity Solent Mind, is feeling stronger and more resilient than ever.

Emma said: ‘It has really difficult as I lost four family members last year including my mum and uncle who were shielding and died a week apart. Then my husband had a tumour which had a bleed behind his eye which was scary.

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Emma Dunbar, 38, from Gosport, has lost four of her family members to coronavirus during the first lockdown, she has also been caring for her husband who has a tumour in his eye and was been made redundant in the second lockdown. She has also been home schooling her 15-year-old daughter and working full time. Picture: Sarah Standing (220121-960)

‘I became next of kin for my brother who has dementia and severe mental health issues so explaining what had happened with mum was really hard.

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‘In December, my husband was also given his notice of redundancy. During this lockdown I am working full-time, home-schooling my 15-year-old daughter, and still having dinner on the table by 6pm. It’s not been easy.

‘I think at first because I work in mental health and I have training I thought I had all the skills to deal with everything myself but sometimes you need to reach out and get that support.’

Emma told her team at work what was happening and spoke to a therapist.

She said: ‘As a manager, I think telling my team that I was struggling helped them as well to realise that everyone needs help.

‘I found therapy and opening up to someone was quite difficult and found I went mute when trying to put everything that was happening and how I was feeling into words.

‘In my work I encourage people to talk but it has made me realise just how hard it can be. I think it has definitely made me more empathetic being on the other side.

‘It has changed me as a person and made me more resilient.'

It comes as Solent Mind launches plea to encourage workplaces to be more flexible to help people’s wellbeing during the third national lockdown.

Emma Fernandes, business development manager at the charity, said: ‘Lockdown is hard for so many people.

‘As a mental health charity, we are taking the wellbeing needs of our staff very seriously at this difficult time, by offering flexible working to help them with home schooling, and would recommend other employers ensure staff wellbeing is a priority during lockdown.

‘At Solent Mind we are still here to support people online, on the phone and through our app. We also offer training for workplaces to help organisations promote better mental wellbeing.’

The News and JPI Media has launched a mental health campaign, There For Each Other.

Over the next few weeks you will hear from a range of people about their mental health journeys, relating to a number of topics including Covid-19, veterans, suicide, financial stress, grief, domestic abuse and the impact of social media.

Health professionals, organisations and charities will be sharing the range of support that is available and how it can be accessed.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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