Suffering from Brexit anxiety? You could get free counselling

Psychotherapists will offer sessions to those left in despair by referendum result

A group of psychotherapists have volunteered to offer free counselling for people with anxiety related to Brexit.

The organisers say the initiative is aimed at preventing people “being sucked into a vortex of gloom and doom” over the prospect of the UK leaving the EU.

It came after a survey of 1,300 remain voters found many were still traumatised by the result of the referendum.

Asked to express their emotions about the vote the most common words used in the survey were “devastated”, “angry”, “depressed”, “betrayed” and “ashamed”.

Brexit anxiety word cloud
Brexit anxiety word cloud. Photograph: Dr Helen De Cruz

A team of five registered therapists and psychologists from north London’s Existential Academy have agreed to offer people up to 10 free sessions of therapy.

The initiative, known as Emotional Support Service for Europeans, is being led by Emmy van Deurzen, a professor of psychotherapy at Middlesex university and a passionate remainer.

She said the survey revealed many people “feel their lives have been totally changed” by Brexit. In a blogpost for the British Psychological Society published on Friday, she wrote: “The vote has struck at the core of their identity and continues to dominate their everyday experience. Some are still in shock and can’t quite believe this is happening.”

The scheme is likely to be dismissed as “snowflake nonsense” by those who back Brexit. But Van Deurzen claims some people are “tearing out hair in despair” .

And she warned that those who don’t seek help risk their anxiety getting worse. “Being sucked into a vortex of gloom and doom is not good for any of us, and it is vital to remain positive, constructive and purposeful,” she said.

Van Deurzen said the vote had already had a profound effect on many of the estimated 3.5 million European citizens living in the UK.

“We know that hundreds of thousand are so deeply hurt and upset that they have already left the UK or are planning to do after Brexit,” Van Deurzen wrote.

She adds: “Sometimes it almost seems as if we are on trial, as if a social experiment is being rolled out to test our personal resilience and sanity.”


Matthew Weaver

The GuardianTramp

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