Counsellor: Impact of Covid illness on mental health 'horrendous'
- Credit: Karen Bonthelius
A Norfolk counsellor has lifted the lid on the severe mental impact having coronavirus has had on her clients.
Karen Bonthelius, a psychotherapist based in Watton, said the number of people suffering with mental ill health after contracting the virus has been "absolutely horrendous".
Her worrying assessment comes after a University of Oxford study found one in three survivors of Covid-19 were diagnosed with a neurological or psychiatric condition within six months of being infected.
The study, which looked at the electronic health records of more than 230,000 Covid patients, discovered 13pc had been diagnosed with such illness for the very first time.
And Mrs Bonthelius, who runs Life Counselling Private Practice, says she is far from surprised by the results.
"I have probably dealt with 10 clients who have suffered mentally after having Covid," she said.
"The main things I've come across are lethargy, being confused and emotional, and not being able to do their jobs as well as before.
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"Then of course there is the emotional stress of everything. You open the door up to financial worries, marriage problems, alcoholism. I cannot stress enough how horrible this illness is."
Having worked in psychotherapy since 2005, Mrs Bonthelius admits the past year has been one of the most challenging periods of her career.
The 57-year-old estimates that the mental health impact of the pandemic will be felt for many more years to come.
"Around seven months ago I had my first client who had been ill - a woman in her 40s," added Mrs Bonthelius.
"She got over Covid, but soon realised she could not walk far without getting breathless and would have dizzy spells. She had quite a high-powered job which required her to be quick-thinking, but she couldn't do it any more and had to leave.
"I've had a man in his 50s - a farmer - who worked all hours of the day. He didn't even know why he'd made an appointment, but he was feeling low, depressed and emotional.
"It then came up in conversation that he had previously been admitted to hospital for three days with Covid. He recovered, but he is now rethinking his whole life.
"There are so many things I have learned about what this awful disease can do to people. It is absolutely horrendous."