In this episode of the HJ Talks About Abuse podcast we discuss Mental Health Week and how it applies to our clients.
18th to 24th May 2020 is Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK.
This is unfortunately very applicable to the work we do as it is not unusual that those who have been sexually abused, especially as children, suffer from mental health illnesses.
Mental Health Awareness is being promoted across all platforms at the moment a lot more than we’ve noticed in recent years because of the COVID-19 impact and the concerns over isolation.
We would like to tie this into the frustrations currently faced by our clients.
We have noticed in our experience that the court process can exacerbate mental health symptoms. This may be because the process itself is traumatic (survivors facing their abuser or abusers) but it may also be a lengthy process which can be stressful.
Due to COVID-19, we are unable to attend court for the civil matters we are pursuing. This means that remote methods must be used, however, often the abuser is in prison for the abuse they have committed. Communication is difficult in the best of times, but currently, it is a frustrating circle of adjournments. We have been advised that prisoners do not have access to the usual video and telephone conference facilities to attend court hearings remotely. It is unfair to continue proceedings if they wish to attend and cannot for matters outside of their control. This is regardless of how long the matter has been ongoing, or the severity of their crimes. This is understandable for practitioners, but for survivors, it can be heartbreaking.
Other practitioners will appreciate that hearings and trials are often booked well in advance and can be difficult to organise. We are frustrated, and can only imagine how our clients feel when they have been mentally preparing for a hearing or trial which is now likely to not be heard for months.
Hugh James would like to remind everyone to focus upon the positives where they can and if you or someone you know is struggling, seek help from friends, family or an appropriate organisation such as MIND (www.mind.org.uk).