Home Mental Health & Well-Being Psychological Fallout of Pandemic for Families Will Last Longer Than the Virus

Psychological Fallout of Pandemic for Families Will Last Longer Than the Virus

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In his introduction to the Charity’s annual review (published on 25th September 2020), Tavistock Relationships’ CEO Andrew Balfour, expresses his concern about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the mental health and well-being of UK families.

Established after the Second World War, when traumatised families were in crisis, Tavistock Relationships remains relevant and at the forefront of clinical, research and policy thinking about couples today. The organisation specialises in relationship counselling and psychotherapy.

Tavistock Relationships’ therapists have continued to counsel people throughout the pandemic by switching services online. 

Andrew Balfour, CEO of Tavistock Relationships, explains: ‘As a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, families across the world are experiencing the threat or actuality of illness, isolation and loss of social networks, unemployment, financial hardship and other privations.

‘We know that escalating family stress is likely to mean that greater numbers of children than ever before are exposed to the damaging effects of intense parental conflict, and we have seen an increase in people coming to us with very seriously distressed relationships.

Without targeted interventions to help with the psychological fallout, the consequences of the deprivations experienced by so many, will continue to be felt long after the acute danger of the virus has diminished.

Now, more than ever, there is a need for the work of agencies such as ours to contribute to the national effort that is going to be required to address the psychological challenges facing families across the UK.’

Tavistock Relationships aims to reach the widest range of families by developing and testing new approaches to contemporary psychosocial problems. The Charity’s data continues to show statistically significant improvement in relationship quality for couples seen in its services and improvements in the well-being of their children.

In 2019/20 Tavistock Relationships’ Online Therapy Service delivered 1,281 sessions, a 9.5% increase over the 1,170 sessions delivered the year before.

Andrew explains: ‘In March, when lockdown began, we were able to use the systems developed for our online therapy service, launched in 2016, to transfer more than 350 cases online, while only shutting our clinical service for three days. All our 120 therapists, including trainees, and 30 supervisors were trained in how to use the software, as well as how to work clinically online.  In this way, we were able to continue to support couples and families facing relationships and mental health challenges during [the] lockdown.’

New programmes and interventions to support families delivered by Tavistock Relationships in the financial year April 2019 to March 2020 include:

  • Parenting Under Pressure – a mentalisation-based therapy approach (MBT-PP) for parents from the Black and Minority Ethnic community with learning difficulties in Harrow, and those with mental health concerns, supported by a one-year grant from the DWP
  • Children of Alcohol Dependent Parents – a Department of Health-funded partnership project working to reduce parental conflict in the context of alcohol dependence
  • Reducing the impact of inter-parental conflict on children’s mental health – with funding from BBC Children in Need, Tavistock Relationships is delivering therapeutic support to separated parents whose ongoing conflict is affecting the mental health of their children
  • Reducing Parental Conflict Programme – the charity’s Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) funded programme has been awarded Prime Contractor status for two out of the four contracts offered by DWP across the UK
  • Parents as Partners – the charity’s parental group training programme has been purchased by four local authorities
  • Couple Therapy for Depression – the Charity’s Couple Therapy for Depression Training continues to enable more couple therapy for depression treatment to be delivered within the NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme
  • ‘Between Us’ – an app for relationship support, developed with funding from the Fidelity Foundation, based on the Charity’s highly effective NHS intervention programme, Couple Therapy for Depression.


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