Covid Cara: Meet the team behind the free counselling network for Ireland's frontline workers 1 month ago

Covid Cara: Meet the team behind the free counselling network for Ireland's frontline workers

"If you’re out working right now, you’re an essential worker."

Sinead Morley recently heard about a free counselling service for frontline workers in New York City.

A network made up of volunteer therapists and psychologists, the initiative puts frontline workers in contact with counsellors for free sessions to help them cope during the coronavirus pandemic.

Clinical psychologist Linda Bhreathnach had recently heard about a free counselling service for frontline workers in New York City.

A recent MA psychology graduate from the University of Limerick, Linda teamed up with MA Psychology graduates Sinead Morley, Ellen Moran and Shauna Hill. They got in touch with the founders of the NYC network and learned how the service worked. They immediately got to work on setting up an Irish version of the network, Covid Cara.

"We knew something like this could be easily adapted to an Irish setting," Sinead tells Her.

"Then it was just a question of getting other psychology graduates (Shauna Hill and Ellen Moran) on board, and hitting the ground running. We set up the website, the socials, and we’ve now got 40 volunteer therapists working with us. We make a good team."

How Covid Cara works is simple. First, a worker contacts the service via email, where they will be put in touch with one of the four women. Based on the details they give about their own situation, the user will then be provided with a list of therapists with relevant experience.

The user can decide which therapist they'd like to have a session with, and the team will provide the contact details.

The network itself does not provide therapy. Rather it acts as a means of putting workers in contact with therapists, psychiatrists, life coaches, spiritual care providers, and grief counsellors who are kindly offering a portion of their time to frontline workers in need. 

Sinead says things were "slow going" at the beginning, but over the past few weeks they have seen a massive increase in clients asking about the service.

"We have a huge array of nurses and people who work in care homes getting in touch, but we also want to eventually broaden out to help more people," she says.

"We don’t have the capacity to help everyone right now, we’re just focused on frontline workers and their families, but we also want people to know that frontline isn’t just medical and care workers.

"It’s people in sanitation, people who work in shops. If you’re out working right now, you’re an essential worker."

The Covid Cara team 

The majority of Covid Cara's users have found the service through word of mouth, by talking with other frontline workers who have availed of its sessions and workshops.

Sinead says that the growth has been really positive, because it not only allows them to help more people, but proves that the service is working.

Covid Cara doesn't just offer one-on-one sessions either. The network also runs Wednesday Well-being Workshops twice a month, featuring specialised sessions on stress-management, physical health, and meditation.

"There's yoga teachers, meditation practitioners, and psychotherapists involved," says Sinead.

"We had two ladies who own a studio in Ontario, Canada and they had a 30 minute Zoom session where they were sharing techniques and coming mechanisms and general tips for relaxation.

"It's especially great if you’ve got no access to materials or space."

Covid Cara's second workshop concerned children's anxieties in the home, and their next will be a physical health session.

Users can contact the group directly to register for an upcoming workshop via the Covid Cara website.

You can find out more, or contact Covid Cara, here.