Some children from vulnerable families found themselves at home "locked" in situations akin to a "pressure cooker" during lockdowns, as schools were closed and supports were cut off to parents.

The finding is contained in an interim report from the Oireachtas Sub-Committee on Mental Health which details the effect of restrictions on people's mental health and well-being.

Members of the committee heard from several grassroots organisations over the past few months.

Among them were family resource centres in Limerick, north west Clare and Killinarden in Dublin.

The centres told members about the "significant issue" of food poverty for some young families during the pandemic.

The committee heard that some children who received food supports through school or childcare services had found themselves at home full time.

Along with the impact of school closures on children and parents, resource centres also observed a rise in domestic violence as well as increases in addiction issues, including alcohol and drugs.

There was also evidence of "gambling concerns" amongst the "over 65 age cohort".

The eight-person sub-committee, comprising TDs and senators, called on the Department of Health to launch a 24/7 emergency mental health service along with a 24-hour suicide prevention support team.

Its report also recommends a retrospective review into the effect of Covid-19 restrictions on the mental health of people who had loved ones availing of palliative care and end-of-life supports, and those who had to endure the funerals of friends and family during the pandemic.

At a virtual launch of the report, chair of the Sub-Committee on Mental Health Senator Frances Black remarked that during the pandemic "we've become more aware of our need for somebody to talk to, someone to be there when we're struggling".

Senator Black said that sometimes people need others to help them cope with issues such as "addiction, with violence, with boredom, with depression, fear, anxiety, this is all part of our basic humanity".

Over the past few months, the sub-committee heard from organisations such as the Clondalkin Covid-19 Community Response Network, Migrants Rights Centre Ireland, Doras, the Rise Foundation, the Traveller Counselling Service, AsIAm, An Garda Síochána and others.

In evidence shared with the committee, Doras spoke of the impact of restrictions on people in Direct Provision.

It noted that people living in such circumstances are already "15 times more likely to be diagnosed with depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder than the majority of the population".

Doras said that "substance misuse and addiction arises from forced idleness, which is a reality for many people in Direct Provision".

Meanwhile, autism charity, AsIAm revealed that it would establish an information line in September, allowing autistic people to access guidance from qualified professionals.

The charity told the committee that autistic people are "four times more likely to experience loneliness than non-autistic people".

Overall, there are ten recommendations in the report, one of which calls for the development of a national Traveller mental health action plan, as promised in the Programme for Government.

The sub-committee will publish a full report at the end of the year.