A message from a house in St Mellons Cardiff. Photograph- Ellis Cochlin

A 20-year-old student has been explaining how studying at home because of the coronavirus has affected her mental health.

One in four people in the world will be affected by mental health disorders at some point in their lives while 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation.

A study by mental health charity Young Minds asked 2,111 people aged under 25 who have a history of mental health needs how the coronavirus impacted their mental well-being. The survey was carried out from March 20 to 25, 2020.

Eighty-three per cent of the young people believed the measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus had made their mental health worse, with 32% believing it had made their mental health much worse.

“I enjoy human interaction because it distracts me from my thoughts”
Amber fullalove

Of the 2,111 participants in the survey 1,294 had received some sort of mental health support in the past three months. This included things such as support from helpline or text services, support from school or university staff, private counselling or therapy.

Seventy-four per cent of respondents said they were still able to access some form of mental health support compared with 26% who were no longer able to.

Many universities have moved to online learning. But Amber Fullalove, who studies a highly practical-based course, architectural technology, at the University of West England, said her course had not moved online and she has only one catch-up call a week with her lecturers.

“Not having the access of university facilities to finish off assignments has become really limiting. When you’re sitting alone in your house every single day, getting up and doing the same repetitive thing, you don’t really have that kind of motivation because you don’t have anybody to go through it with you.”

Amber Fullalove says her mental health has been affected by coronavirus. Photograph: Amber Fullalove

Amber said she was finding it difficult not being able to go into her doctor’s surgery and discuss issues: “I enjoy human interaction because it distracts me from my thoughts. I’m very used to being able to go to the doctor in person which is helpful, but over the phone feels somewhat more of a stranger.”

Emma Thomas, chief executive of Young Minds, believes the pandemic is a “human tragedy that will continue to alter the lives of everyone in our society. The results of the survey show just how big an impact this has had and will continue to have on the mental health of young people.”


Amber discusses how university work from home is impacting her mental health

Mental health nurse Ellie Sanders who has been working on the front line and has witnessed first-hand how the spread of COVID-19 has impacted people’s everyday lives and routines.

“It would seem the lack of community and social support contributes to a lower mood and a sense of alienation from society. Due to social isolation, some patients have had time to ruminate on negative thoughts at home, causing low mood and suicidal ideation in some cases.”

Ellie has shared some tips on how people can maintain good mental health during these uncertain times.

  • Adopt a daily routine that is similar to your “normal life routine”, i.e. wake up at the same time every day, get washed and dressed, take meals at the same time if possible and go to sleep at the same time.
  • Ensure you are interacting with friends or family through social media, Skype, Zoom etc. It is important to get human interaction.
  • Do an activity you enjoy every day whether that be exercising, listening to music or doing a puzzle.
  • Maintain a positive mindset. It can be difficult in these uncertain times but thinking negatively all the time will be of no benefit to your state of mind. It can be good to write one thing you are grateful for each morning just to remind yourself there are still good things we can be thankful for in life.