A charity which launched following the Manchester Arena bombing is providing the UK’s first online platform for rapid, free ‘mental health first aid’ in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Trauma Response Network (TRN) was founded by Sean Gardner together with experts specialising in Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing therapy (EMDR) to offer emergency online support during, and in the aftermath of a mass trauma event.

Sean was caught up in the terrorist attack at the Ariana Grande concert and was subsequently diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and referred for Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy.

With no emergency first aid for mental health in the same way that ambulances and hospitals are available to support those with physical injuries, Sean launched TRN to deliver mental health services and therapy at a time when emergency resources are stretched.

On Friday 1st May, TRN launches a free online service to provide mental health support to thousands of people, including NHS front line staff impacted by the current coronavirus pandemic. Over 400 specially qualified EMDR therapists have volunteered to provide free online therapy sessions alongside online support and resources.

Sean Gardner, Founder of TRN, said: “COVID-19 is having a huge impact on the mental health of so many people. We wanted to use TRN to support those carrying out the most vital roles on the front line, from carers looking after our communities, to doctors and nurses working in critical care wards.

“The service will also be available to the wider community, including adults and children experiencing emotional trauma.”

Michael O’Connor President of the EMDR Association UK says: “It’s vital that people are able to access mental health support during the coronavirus crisis, particularly with NHS resources under such enormous pressure. TRN is ahead of the curve by having EMDR therapists ready and trained to offer the therapy online, and they are generously doing this in a voluntary capacity.”

EMDR therapist Susan Darker Smith, specialises in childhood trauma. She says: “The impact of COVID-19 on children can be detrimental as they struggle with survival guilt from the loss of older relatives, fears that they may be responsible for the illness and the fear or actual occurrence of being left orphaned. These adverse childhood experiences can lead to physical and mental health issues in adulthood. It’s vital we start responding now to protect the next generation.”

TRN Trustee, Professor Ian Barron, Director for the Centre for International Education at the University of Massachusetts, said: “TRN is committed to the highest quality of service, that’s why, for the first time, online EMDR is to be robustly evaluated.”

Accessing EMDR therapy through TRN is simple. Users need to fill in a contact form and a therapist will send an invitation to an appointment online. Up to eight therapy sessions are offered over a course of 12 week, free of charge.

TRN uses advanced Microsoft technology to provide therapy securely online the background will be blurred so that the client’s home cannot be seen, the session is recorded and any documents exchanged privacy protected.

To access emergency free mental health support go to traumaresponsenetwork.org


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