During the global pandemic of COVID-19 it is not just our physical health that is suffering. In a period of lockdown, our mental health is facing a huge hit too.
“This is worse than the war – we were not locked in our houses and there was no fighting for food.”
Iris Stirling, 91 year old self isolating
For many people with mental health problems seeing their family and friends is a coping mechanism and a way of relieving stresses or anxiety they may feel. Not being able to do this has led to a rise in mental health problems – including increased anxiety, stress and loneliness – Mental Health Charity Mind has found.
— Public Health England (@PHE_uk) March 29, 2020
Mental health help from Public Health England
Iris Stirling, a 91 year old widow, is self isolating for 3 months following government guidelines. She states “This is worse than the war- we were not locked in our house and there was no fighting for food”
She is facing increased loneliness due to the lack of face to face contact. However being able to phone family and friends is helping her to some extent.
Iris Stirling on her increased loneliness
Keeping in contact with others through technology has been important in ensuring that we maintain healthy relationships.
Clinical Psychologist, Dr Roberta Babb has stated that “The feeling of mass connection and sense of belonging can reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation which is vital during a global pandemic.”
“Positively engaging in social media can ease stress, anxiety, and depression, boost feelings of self-worth, creativity and a sense of personal belonging during a time when we can feel extremely helpless and powerless.”
“32% of young people surveyed agreed that the pandemic has made their mental health much worse”
young minds charity
Although social media is helping us cope with the lack of human contact, Science News states that modern technology is no substitute for human touch, such as holding hands or hugging which is said to be a ‘stress buffer.’
Student Danielle Austin explained how her anxiety has increased during lockdown:
In a survey of young people with a history of mental health needs by Young Minds, 32% agreed that the pandemic has made their mental health much worse as well as 51% agreeing that it had made their mental health slightly worse.
📣 Mental Health 📣
For anyone looking for ways to manage their mental health during these difficult times, whether working or on furlough, Mental Health UK share some simple steps you can take to look after your wellbeing. – https://t.co/6X0YvLBCIn pic.twitter.com/nTPwdw1Pdt
— ITV Careers (@ITVCareers) May 7, 2020
NHS’s 10 tips to help with our wellbeing:
- Stay connected with people
- Talk about your worries
- Support and help others
- Feel prepared
- Look after your body
- Stick to the facts
- Stay on top of difficult feelings
- Do things you enjoy
- Focus on the present
- Look after your sleep