How are you feeling? Looking after our mental health during COVID-19

Increased social isolation, loneliness, health anxiety, stress and an economic downturn are a perfect storm to harm people’s mental health and wellbeing. Cllr Eunice Campbell-Clark, Portfolio Holder for Health, HR and Equalities, explains the support available in Nottingham.

As an Older Person’s Champion, I know that even at the best of times, loneliness and isolation are a big problem in today’s society. These issues can affect anyone, at any time of life, not just older people. But with the current lockdown these problems have been magnified tenfold.

It’s harder for us all to stay in touch with our usual support networks of friends and family. Some of us will also be worried about health or money – and unfortunately many Nottingham families will be facing food poverty and issues like domestic violence. These are hard times for sure.

Dismissing mental health concerns, and doing nothing, could lead to a rise in conditions such as anxiety and depression, and more people turning to alcohol, drugs and gambling. All of these factors can increase the tension in households, and can even make homes violent places for children and victims of domestic abuse. It really is important to take mental health seriously and get help if needed.

Fortunately in Nottingham, services are available to help. Please do share the information below with anyone who would benefit from it and urge them to seek appropriate, professional help from the sources listed below or available here.

Sometimes we still find it hard to talk about mental health, to reach out and get professional help. So I just want to say please, please do look at the help available to you. And if you know someone, who you suspect is struggling right now, please do share this information with them – you may be the person who makes the world of difference to their life. Please reach out, have the conversation, share the information, be the person who makes the difference.

Thank you
Cllr Eunice Campbell-Clark
Portfolio Holder for Health, HR and Equalities

Who are the most vulnerable groups?

Certain groups of people might experience the pandemic differently from the general population and have specific circumstances affecting their mental health:

  • Children, young people and families – this group will be dealing with school closures, changes to free school meals provision and, in some households, an increased risk of domestic violence.
  • Single person households, elderly people and those with underlying health issues – this group are more likely to be experiencing isolation and loneliness.
  • People with existing mental-health issues – this group maybe experiencing some disruption to their usual support services.
  • Frontline healthcare and key workers – this group are likely to be experiencing greater work stress and fear of potential contamination.
  • People with learning difficulties – this group may experience changes to routines and their usual support services.
  • People on low incomes or uncertain incomes – this group are likely to be experiencing job and financial insecurity.
  • Prisoners, the homeless and refugees – these groups often face greater social exclusion and may have little or no support network.

NHS’s Top 5 Tips for maintaining mental wellbeing during the Coronavirus outbreak

  1. Talk about your worries: it is normal to feel worried, scared or helpless about the current situation. Maintain contact with friends and family via phone and video calls to share how you are feeling.
  2. Keep a regular routine and set goals: you may need to set a new routine for now. Try writing a plan for your day with the things you can still do at home, like watching a film, reading a book or completing a puzzle. Setting goals and achieving them gives a sense of control and purpose. Maintaining good-quality sleep makes a big difference to how you feel mentally and physically too, so it’s important to get enough (the Every Mind Matters sleep page provides practical advice on how to improve your sleep).
  3. Manage your media and information intake: if 24-hour news and constant social media updates are making you worried, try to limit the time you spend watching, reading, or listening to coverage of the outbreak to once or twice a day.
  4. Do things you enjoy and try something new: focussing on your favourite hobby, learning something new, or simply taking time to relax indoors should give you some relief from anxious thoughts and feelings and can help boost your mood. Look online for lots of free tutorials and courses. 
  5. Look after your body: our physical health has a big impact on how we feel. At times like these it can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour that end up making you feel worse. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water and exercise regularly. You can leave your house, alone or with members of your household, for one form of exercise a day – like a walk, run or bike ride. But make you keep a safe 2-metre distance from others.

Mental health crisis support services in Nottingham:

Thank you to Nottingham Community and Voluntary Service for helping to collate this information.

NHS Nottinghamshire Healthcare Trust

The NHS in Nottinghamshire has set up a mental health helpline for local people in crisis.

The helpline number is available to call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for anyone in mental health crisis and in need of immediate help, across Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. 

Wellness in Mind

Wellness in Mind, which connects people in Nottingham city to mental health support services, is running a free telephone support line between 9am-midnight, seven days a week. The phone line is managed by experienced support staff who can help by:

  • Talking through your feelings and offering advice about next steps
  • Talking in confidence about somebody you are concerned about
  • Offering advice about what support may be available to you

The support line number is 0800 561 0073 (please press option 1)

If it’s after midnight and before 8am, you can leave a message on the answerphone and someone will get back to you the following day.

The organisation is also able to offer advice online, to fill in the referral form on their website, visit: www.wellnessinmind.org/talk-to-us-online

The Tomorrow Project

The Tomorrow Project, part of Harmless, offers direct support to those in suicide crisis. We are easy to access and open to all ages and genders across Nottinghamshire. Despite the current national emergency, face-to-face appointments and remote sessions are both available. Self and agency referrals are being accepted and a response will be provided to all within one working day.

They offer: 

  • A quick response, with referrals being responded to within one working day
  • Practical and emotional support
  • Regular and direct access to a Crisis Support Officer
  • Both face-to-face and remote support sessions
  • Available across the whole of Nottinghamshire

To access the service:

  • Email crisis@tomorrowproject.org.uk
  • Call 0115 880 0282 – please note, we ask that you leave a voice message and a member of the team will respond within one working day
  • www.tomorrowproject.org.uk

Now more than ever, Every Mind Matters

 A great new website called Every Mind Matters has launched a new suite of tips and advice, focussed on looking after people’s mental wellbeing during the pandemic. The range of new resources include a tailored COVID-19 Mind Plan, COVID-19 specific content for individuals and their loved ones, and support for specific mental wellbeing issues such as anxiety, stress, low mood and trouble sleeping.

The NHS-endorsed content has been developed in partnership with clinicians, academics and leading mental health charities and social enterprises including Mind, Mental Health Foundation, Samaritans, Rethink, Mental Health First Aid England, and offers authoritative, evidence based and practical support to the public, as well as to people with specific mental health concerns.

For more information, search ‘Every Mind Matters’ or visit: www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters

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