Yorkshire Housing is taking positive action to tackle mental health problems experienced by customers during the coronavirus lockdown.
Staff at the Leeds-based housing association have access to a range of safeguarding procedures.
This includes tailored advice for home visits during the coronavirus pandemic and for the reporting of conversations relating to suicide.
Yorkshire Housing took action due to people over 70 and those with underlying health conditions having to isolate themselves.
Others are either working from home or, if they have shown symptoms of the virus, are also isolating themselves.
And there are those who have been made redundant or furloughed (temporarily laid off) and might have financial or other worries.
This can lead customers to experience loneliness, anxiety, depression and more serious mental health problems.
Safeguarding lead Julie Lawton said: “Those fully in lockdown could experience feelings of loneliness and isolation and might not have anyone to turn to for support.
“Then there are those who don’t have mental health issues, but are experiencing strange circumstances.
“This can include feeling isolated and lonely because they’ve never worked from home before.”
She added: “Then there are those with a pre-existing mental health condition that might be exacerbated by the lockdown period.
“These are people who might have had access to services that have now been withdrawn or replaced with a phone call.
“And so their support needs now may be different from before as some may feel rejected.”
Reporting the issue internally as a safeguarding risk is only the first of several proactive steps.
Any problem, especially suicide, that staff consider an immediate and real danger will be reported to the emergency services on 999.
If someone is not in immediate danger, then staff will refer them to their GP, NHS 111 or mental health team.
Alternatively, they will encouraged to call the Samaritans on freephone 116 123 or will be referred for a call-back from the charity.
Staff have access to free suicide prevention training and have a checklist of warning signs to look out for.
Those experiencing general loneliness or isolation can access Yorkshire Housing’s Customer Assistance Scheme here for services including a befriending call.
Staff wellbeing is also important and Yorkshire Housing has in place measures to help colleagues who may be experiencing similar issues.
Julie, who helps coordinate action on the ground with frontline teams, said: “We’re a business that builds communities, not just houses.
“Looking after people is part of the ethos of the company. And this is particularly important at a time when so many of our customers are experiencing difficulties.
The Samaritans website can be found here.
And the NHS website here has a list of other mental health services.