The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly had a startling impact on our day to day lives, be that through having been furloughed, the loss of a job or in some instances the devastating loss of a loved one as a result of the Coronavirus. The past year has been challenging for everyone, and with the legal restrictions on social interaction set to be maintained well into 2021, the country is not yet out of the woods.
One aspect of the pandemic which is often overlooked is the effect the virus has had on the nation’s mental health. Information published by the charity Mind illustrates that as a result of the pandemic, the nation is now in the grip of a ‘mental health emergency’ with the charity’s Infoline receiving up to 500 calls a day in October 2020; nearly double that which would usually be expected at that time of the year.
Indeed, a survey conducted by the charity highlighted some startling statistics: –
• Over half of adults and over two thirds of young people said that their mental health got worse during the lockdown period from April 2020 to mid-May 2020;
• 1 in 3 adults and more than 1 in 4 young people did not access support during lockdown because they did not think that they deserved support;
• A quarter of those who tried to access support during the lockdown period were unable to do so;
• Young people are most likely to say that the pandemic has worsened their mental health;
With NHS Crisis Care Services under strain and 4 in 10 mental health Trusts functioning with staffing levels well below the established benchmark, it is no surprise that COVID-19 has only served to pile more pressure upon an already busy healthcare system. So what can be done to safeguard your own mental health during these uncertain times, and what can be done to better the nation’s mental health as a whole?
The first port of call should always be your GP who will be able to provide advice and guidance during these difficult times, if you are struggling. However, there is also a variety of excellent charities which have been working continuously throughout the lockdown period to provide resources and information which can be accessed by those in need.
Mind offers a Wellness Action Plan specifically tailored for those who are now working from home which can be accessed here. Even small steps such as identifying triggers or taking short breaks throughout the day can assist in maintaining mental wellness. Simple self-care is essential in these unprecedented times and something as easy as organising a video call with a colleague to catch-up can make all the difference, for you and for them.
Rethink mental illness also offers an information hub specifically tailored to providing resources to help people during the pandemic, and this can be reached here.
At Wolferstans, we sadly have experience of acting for clients or their representatives who have suffered terrible tragedies as a result of a mental illness.
It is essential that every individual has access to the help that they need so as to prevent a crisis point being reached. To help make this a reality, Mind is currently running its ‘Switch Off, Game On’ initiative, which you can get involved with here.
Fundraising may be more difficult whilst we are all unable to leave our homes, but the Switch Off, Game On initiative allows you to raise funds from the comfort of your home by doing something you enjoy, be that by streaming or playing an online game, or even by having a sponsored board game night with your household.
By supporting initiatives such as this and ensuring that everyone is aware of the resources available to them, we can together ensure that the pandemic does not leave a lasting and detrimental mark on the nation’s mental health.