18-20 May 2020 is Mental Health Awareness Week. Falling as it does in the midst of the global pandemic and lockdown, it’s a timely reminder that many people are experiencing challenging times.
People who have previously experienced mental health challenges, as well as those who haven’t, face a new and unique time, possibly without the support of familiar people and routines which they rely on.
We want to help remove the stigma of mental health challenges, encourage people to feel safe asking for help, and provide great support.
Is coronavirus affecting your mental health?
Living in lockdown, working from home, worries about job security and finances, homeschooling, caring remotely for older and vulnerable relatives - all of this takes its toll.
If you're finding things hard emotionally right now, you're not alone.
A recent survey by the Institute for Employment Services found that - in response to COVID-19 - 64% of the people who were asked have lost sleep from worry, 40% are not waking up feeling fresh and rested, and 60% are experiencing fatigue, in addition to a range of musculoskeletal complaints, physical and emotional health concerns.
The theme of this year’s mental health awareness week is kindness; so what could you do to be kind to yourself and others?
Tips for supporting your own mental health
- Try to get enough good quality sleep (see our advice below).
- Follow a manageable routine, and accept that you may not be able to do everything - be realistic!
- Look after your physical self. Eat well, get some fresh air and exercise every day.
- Don’t isolate yourself. Keep in touch with friends by phone, email, and social media. Find someone you trust to talk to about your feelings.
- Ask for help if you’re struggling. Contact your GP or other professional advisers.
Tips for supporting loved ones
- If someone seems ‘not quite right’ but says they’re fine, ask again in a gentle manner. People often say they’re OK because they’re worried about asking for help. Let them know they can trust you.
- Let them know you’re there for them but don’t pressure them to talk if they’re not ready.
- Learn how to listen really well. Make time and space to focus on what the other person is saying. Don’t interrupt, and don’t feel the need to offer solutions. Simply by giving them an opportunity to talk you are helping more than you may realise.
- Help them ask for professional support if appropriate. Contacting their GP is a good starting point, and we’ve also included some helpful links below.
Some thoughts about sleep
There's a close relationship between sleep and mental health. Living with a mental health problem can affect how well you sleep and poor sleep can have a negative impact on your mental health.
It can be difficult to set a great ‘sleep routine’ - especially if you have young children or other triggers that wake you in the night. But you might find these ideas helpful:
- Try to go to bed at the same time each night, and have some wind-down time first by switching off digital devices and avoiding activities, TV programmes, and so on which might stimulate your brain.
- Eat early in the evening so that you’ve had time to digest your food before bed. The later you eat, the less your body is prepared to sleep, which can also have adverse effects on your memory and efficiency the next day.
- Do a simple relaxation or mindfulness exercise - try one of the many free apps for this.
- If you have lots on your mind try writing a ‘to do’ list for the next day, or perhaps some simple journaling if there are worries you’re finding it hard to let go of. Often the act of writing things down helps to ‘switch off’ the thought process.
Stay safe at home
Useful guidance for staying safe during the outbreak published by SafeLives: A guide for victims and survivors of domestic abuse.
To report domestic abuse, or if you have any concerns, please contact us by:
- Calling us on 0800 012 1311
- Speaking to us on live chat
- Or emailing us at email@example.com
- In an emergency, you should always call the police on 999.
We can offer you advice and support options for staying safe. We will also signpost to specialist services that can help.
Worried about paying your rent?
Contact us straight away if you are having difficulties paying your rent.
Above all, we want to help. So don't struggle alone.
If you are affected by coronavirus and struggling financially as a result of losing your job or seeing a reduction in your earnings, you may be able to claim certain benefits.
If you would like to talk to someone about your rent email firstname.lastname@example.org and someone will be in touch.
Mental Health Awareness Week aims to get people talking about their mental health and reduce the stigma that can stop people from asking for help.
Please remember - around 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem this year yet the shame and silence can be as bad as the mental health problem itself. Your attitude to mental health could change someone’s life.