Luke Pollard MP Member of Parliament for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport
COVID-19 and the lockdown will be having an impact on many people’s mental health as people adapt to the changes the pandemic has brought.
We are in the middle of a national crisis and life is more difficult than usual. Even some of the easier tasks are made more complicated by changing rules and restrictions. Go easy on yourself and take time. Everyone is experiencing a tougher time because of the pandemic and it is OK to not feel OK.
You are not on your own. There are people available to help whether you just need someone to talk to or need extra help. You do not have to suffer in silence or keep a stiff upper lip. Talking helps and talking to people who can help you or sign post you to the help you need is a really important first step.
Below is a list of advice and support available to people who may be struggling with their mental health during this period – please share this information with anyone who might need it to ensure people are supported:
MIND resources – MIND is a fantastic charity who provide a huge amount of support to those experiencing difficulties with their mental health, whether this is due to COVID-19 or not. They have a huge amount of information on their website about how to stay well during the pandemic here, including practical support, ways to pass the time and how to look after your physical health – https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/
Talk to your GP – if you are feeling anxious or depressed, make an appointment to speak with your GP. They have access to a wide variety of services that they can refer you to if you need some extra support and you will be able to make a telephone or virtual appointment to speak to them.
Livewell Southwest – Livewell Southwest’s mental health services have launched a telephone line, staffed by mental health professions, which can provide advice, support and signposting to anyone over the age of 18 who is experiencing a mental health crisis. You do not need to be open to mental health services already to utilise this phone line. Support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 01752 434922.
Use technology – Even if you are not able to meet up with loved ones, utilise technology to enable you to stay in touch with people. The use of programmes like Zoom, Skype and Facebook Messenger video make it easier than ever to keep in touch with people, even if you can’t see them face-to-face. Nobody should feel alone during this time, so do reach out to someone you trust if you need someone to talk to, or a friendly face.
Plymouth POD – This will be a lonely time for many, but there is a wealth of organisations across the city which are ready and waiting to support you. Many organisations, whilst not open to the public, are still offering virtual groups or sessions who you might be able to join. Most of these organisations will be on the Plymouth Online Directory here – https://www.plymouthonlinedirectory.com/
Mental Health Foundation – There are some great resources, tips and help on the Mental Health Foundation website covering all aspects of mental health from preventing problems to dealing with issues. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/
Support from your employer – The way many people are working has changed, with many people now working from home. For many, this means juggling working with responsibilities in the home, working more or longer hours and missing the structure and social nature of going into work. The impact of some of these things should not be underestimated, and many people have been left feeling unsettled or struggling. If you are struggling with balancing working from home, talk to your employer. They may have access to an Employee Assistance Programme or be able to signpost you to other support to help.
Speak to family or friends – sometimes speaking to those close to you can be the easiest first step if you are experiencing problems with your mental health. Don’t be afraid to reach out, other people may be feeling isolated and alone too.
Rosena’s 5 tips to help with your mental help
Dr Rosena Allin-Khan MP is the Shadow Minister for Mental Health. At the start of lockdown she issued five tips to keep yourself well during these difficult times. Even though this video is from the start of the pandemic, the tips are still relevant:
- Write out a daily routine that prioritises yourself. That could be reading a book or meditating.
- Reach out to friends and family. Whether by email, text or Zoom.
- Limit news intake if it is causing you stress.
- Be aware of the impact of social media.
- Get reliable information from trusted websites like gov.uk or the NHS