Mental health is not something that affects some of us every now and again, or that ‘we either have mental health problems or we do not’. Just like physical health, we all have mental health and we are all experiencing the impact that coronavirus is having on our emotional wellbeing.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in the UK, our therapists have been supporting people with increased feelings of anxiety and stress. People have been having sessions to discuss concerns about jobs and finances, loneliness, trying to navigate the unknown whilst managing existing mental health problems, and the health not only of themselves but of their friends and family too.
Experts and organisations including the Health Foundation, the Office for National Statistics, and the Mental Health Foundation have been compiling research to establish the bigger picture of COVID-19’s effect on mental health – the truth is that we are yet to see the full scope.
What we do know is:
- 69% of adults in the UK “report feeling somewhat or very worried about the effect COVID-19 is having on their life”
- The most common issues affecting wellbeing are worries about the future (63%), feeling stressed or anxious (56%), and feeling bored (49%).
- The Understanding Society Study estimates that mental health has worsened by 8.1% (taking into account of pre-pandemic trajectories) as a result of the pandemic
What are some of the reasons for this?
Each and every person’s own circumstances play a part in how they manage their mental health.
The majority of people have found that COVID-19 has impacted their work life in some way, whether it’s the adjustment to working from home, being furloughed, losing employment, experiencing loss of work as a knock-on effect from clients and customers, or having to manage and take responsibility for teams of people who are working through the pandemic.
A survey of over 4,000 adults in the UK from the Mental Health Foundation found that 1 in 5 people were concerned about losing their jobs, and over a quarter of unemployed people reported not coping well with stress. In fact, 10% of those unemployed said “nothing has helped them cope with the stress of the pandemic”. 32% of people said they worried about their finances, including paying bills and managing debt, and 44% of those unemployed said they were worried about having enough food to meet their basic needs.
With strict lockdown rules being implemented, there are those who lost their access to coping mechanisms – going to work, meeting friends and family, exercise, and looking forward to events, holidays, and gatherings. Having a regular routine that would usually seem so stable from day-to-day is, for many, a coping mechanism. People who live alone, or those needing to shield, may have experienced loneliness, which could potentially lead to depression, low self-esteem, and sleep problems.
All of these are legitimate concerns which, when added to the anxieties stemming from excessive media coverage and potential mistruths on social media – build up and takes their toll on emotional wellbeing. It is important that we have the tools needed to help us manage our mental health in tough times.
Mental health care
Despite this increasing need for mental health support, a survey of over 1,300 mental health professionals in the UK by the Royal College of Psychiatrists found that 45% had seen a reduction in routine appointments but yet 43% experienced an increase in their urgent and emergency caseloads. This suggests that people aren’t seeking support early enough and instead are choosing to wait.
Since entering lockdown, Fortis’ team of qualified, professional therapists have been providing therapy sessions online via Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp and Facetime, and over the telephone in order to continue much-needed support. As we are now adjusting to ‘the new abnormal’, Fortis’ face-to-face sessions have resumed at their dedicated private therapy spaces in Grimsby, Scunthorpe, Louth, and Hull as well as in businesses, organisations and schools.
While anxieties and pressures exasperated by the pandemic seemed to be reducing as we eased out of lockdown, experts believe that the full scope of coronavirus’ impact on our mental health is yet to be revealed. For example, critical frontline workers who have been facing the risks to help others every day, those working in hospitals, the care sector, emergency services, food production and retail, have all faced unprecedented pressure to power on through. According to the Health Organisation and a report by The BMJ (British Medical Journal), “we are likely to see an increase in mental health problems such as depression, substance misuse and post-traumatic stress disorder for front-line health and care workers.”
This is why it is imperative that those in need have access to quality therapeutic support and earlier rather than later. Some access private therapy, some struggle to access private therapy due to costs, not meeting the thresholds of free services, or time constraints due to demanding key work and emergency jobs, and one of the clear outcomes from research is that those who are in lower socio-economic groups, those who live in poverty, are unemployed, or live in low quality housing, are more likely to face mental health issues.
The theme for World Mental Health Day 2020 is ‘mental health for all’ with the simple but essential message of greater mental health access for everyone. Reducing barriers so that it is easier for people of all circumstances to take those first steps and learn more about how to support friends and family.
Mind, the mental health charity, is encouraging us all to make one positive change and #doonething today – whether at home, at work, in the community, or just as importantly for yourself.
Think about one thing that you enjoy that you can do today…
What anxiety might look like to you…
Five ways to help right now…
How to help people in Northern Lincolnshire…
Driver Hire Grimsby & Scunthorpe’s JustGiving campaign has an ambitious goal of raising £10,000, so our therapists at Fortis Therapy and Training can support thousands of people from across Northern Lincolnshire. This will relieve the financial burden of accessing mental health support for those in lower socio-economic groups and ensure that those critical frontline workers who are processing the vital role they have been playing throughout COVID-19, have the tools and support system they need to help them to manage and cope not just now, but in the future too.
- Donate to the Driver Hire Grimsby & Scunthorpe JustGiving campaign – https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/fortistherapyandtraining
- Access free online resources from Fortis Therapy and Training: https://fortistherapy.co.uk/resource-hub-for-coronavirus/