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Getting to know the frontline: parent counsellor Gillian Davidson

Gillian Davidson - Image credit: Gillian Davidson

Getting to know the frontline: parent counsellor Gillian Davidson

What does your job involve normally outside of coronavirus?
I'm the parent counsellor for Place2Be, which means I counsel parents and carers of any children that are within the school. It doesn't need to be children that are in one-to-one already, it can be any child at all because it's not linked to the child's problems. It can be something completely separate. So any parent or carer or grandparent can come with a problem, any issue.

How has your work had to change?
I still speak to the parents that I see, every single one of them … I make it as flexible as possible because we just really want to make sure that parent's held, so we don't do full hour sessions with them because a full hour on the phone's way too much for someone and they'll get constant interruptions anyway because their kids are off … I probably see about 17, 18 parents a week and we're still doing that, but it's all over the phone now.

Have you seen a change to people's mental health problems through lockdown? 
Yes. I think initially people were very scared. Actually, the first week there was complete fear and shock at how is our life changing, what will happen to our support systems, our money, jobs … And within the first month of lockdown, I probably had about three clients attempt suicide. It was really, really upsetting because just one week they were fine, they were out in the garden coping, doing their social distancing, it was a nice sunny day, and the next week, something kicks off in the house and that's it.

How do you look after your own mental health?
I still have my supervision with my boss over the phone. And we've had a lot of stuff from our head office just on looking after their own mental health as well. We've had quite a lot of meetings on Zoom with our core team in London… [and] we have team meetings, our own Glasgow team. Part of our team meeting has been feedback, just how we're coping, what's been happening, what's the next stage of how we deal with things. Just to let off steam. Plus there is walking my four rescue dogs and looking after our seven guinea pigs, and my 13-year-old has a horse called Maximus. Keeps you occupied!

Would you see yourself as a key worker?
I think that's a kind of hard one to say because my daughter works in intensive care in the Royal Infirmary, so she's going in with the mask on … so I would think, well, she's a real frontline worker. However, when I'm dealing with people who are telling me they're suicidal, and they are going to phone up social work and ask them, please take my children, I'm not a good mum, and I know they are good mums, they're just overwhelmed, and I think at the end of the week, gosh, that was a tough week, you think, yeah, when it comes to it, you are saving lives.

Read the most recent article written by Jenni Davidson - Two SNP parliamentarians call for national day of mourning for victims of coronavirus

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