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Source: Channel Islands – Jersey

There has been a marked increase in Islanders seeking help for alcohol and mental health issues, with referrals remaining high for harmful and dependent drinkers, alongside a rise in referrals for binge drinkers, due to the emotional and mental stressors of the pandemic.

This week, Jersey’s Alcohol and Drugs Service will be joining 3,000 other groups across the UK for Alcohol Awareness Week.

The week aims to raise awareness of the link between alcohol and mental health, help people speak out about the issues and the stigma surrounding them, and to encourage anyone who is struggling to seek support.

Alcohol Awareness Week provides an important opportunity for all Islanders to:

  • talk about the issues around alcohol and mental health, helping us make more informed choices about our drinking
  •  tackle the stigma associated with drinking, which can be significantly worse for those struggling with mental health problems as well as drinking problems
  • call for action to help those most in need, including children living with an alcohol-dependent parent or carer
  • help those struggling to seek support

Laura Hunter, Alcohol Pathway Team Leader, Alcohol and Drugs Service, said: “Alcohol Awareness Week aims to get people thinking and talking about alcohol, to motivate change at every level from the individual to the wider community. We know that people are drinking more frequently to cope with the impacts of coronavirus, which is also affecting their mental wellbeing.

“We are seeing a real cross-section of our society who are facing stress-related issues to do with a loss of income, fears over a Covid surge, and isolation, which is causing them to increase their consumption of alcohol. This, in turn, is leading to worsening mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression.”

The Listening Lounge also supports Islanders with their mental health. Head of the Listening Lounge, Lucy Nicolaou said: “We want to reassure Islanders that support for both alcohol use and mental wellbeing is available and encourage people to get in touch.

“We all have different ways of coping with pressures and stress. Covid has caused significant disruption to our daily lives and led to increased worries and anxieties for many. It’s important that we have a continued focus on mental health and being mindful of our drinking habits is one way to do this.

“For anyone who may be recognising that they are drinking more alcohol of late, it can be helpful to start thinking about other strategies that can be useful for managing stress and anxiety.”

Jersey’s Alcohol and Drugs Service, together with The Listening Lounge, will be raising awareness of the issue and giving out 200 education packs including: measuring cups, an alcohol quiz, an alcohol units wheel, and information for Islanders on where to go for help and tips for changing behaviour.

These packs will go to the following services: Graces Trust, Listening Lounge, Probation, Magistrates Court and Mental Health Services (for outpatients).

MIL OSI United Kingdom