A Wishaw charity boss is predicting a huge demand on mental health services in the aftermath of the coronavirus epidemic.

Anne Rowan, founder of Chris’s House, has this week called for proper planning and more investment in mental health organisations to help them properly support people in the coming months.

Chris’s House is a suicide prevention centre and has helped thousands of people in crisis over the past few years.

While the building on Belhaven Road has been forced to close its doors due to the coronavirus situation, Anne and a team of dedicated volunteers are still operating a 24/7 support line.

Chris’s House trained counsellors are also continuing to schedule daily phone appointments with people who have been in touch with mental health issues.

Anne said: “People are fully focused on tackling COVID-19, but mental ill health is still there.

“I firmly believe that after all this we will have to ramp up mental health services mainly because of all the financial pressures people are under just now.

“We are in a bubble just now, but we’ve also got to be prepared for handling the aftermath of this virus.

“People are losing jobs every day and businesses are shutting down. And think of the people who are burying loves ones at the moment.

“They can’t have a normal burial service being close to friends and family, which is going to create a very complicated grieving process.”

Anne revealed that phone lines have been busy and heaped praised on her large team of 55 volunteers, many of whom are working out rotas to make sure they can stay in touch with old and new service users.

In addition to financial pressures, Anne also highlighted the reality of strains on relationships because couples and their children are with each other almost 24/7.

She said: “We all need a bit of breathing space in life and it’s stressful if we don’t have a little alone time. Make sure you’ve got a space in the house where you can have some quiet time for yourself. That’s very important.

“We know it’s important to exercise too, but couples should also use that as an opportunity to get away from each other for a wee bit.”

Chris’s House was founded by Anne in memory of her son Chris, whom she lost to suicide in 2011 at the age of 36.

Last month, the organisation was nominated by Wishaw and Motherwell MP Marion Fellows for an honour in this year’s Scottish Charity Awards, which take place this summer.