As lockdown nears its end, do we need to talk about mental health more than ever?

More than a year into the pandemic, the talk surrounding Covid-19’s impact on mental health has slowed right down, almost to a complete stop.

When we entered our first national lockdown it was constantly stressed to us the importance of keeping our mental health healthy. People would share tips on social media, make more of an effort to check in on their loved ones and we would make sure we got out for our daily walk to clear our mind.

A year on and mental health is rarely spoken about, yet you could say it is more important now than it was a year ago.

At the beginning we didn’t know what to expect and a lot of our questions were left unanswered because nobody truly knew how long we were in this for and what would happen.

We spent months basking in the sunshine, finishing DIY tasks around the house, making whipped coffee from a video we’d seen on TikTok, lockdown life was relatively okay.

Now I think it’s safe to say that the novelty has officially worn off. We know how lockdowns go, we know they will most likely be extended and we know how badly our mental health is going to suffer.

One lockdown was doable, but after coming out of our third, many people are left wondering just how much more of this we can take.

In January – June 2019 the NHS Early Release Programme revealed 11% of adults reported symptoms of anxiety disorder and/or depressive disorder, compared to 41.1% in January 2020 a survey conducted by the US Census Bureau Household Pulse survey showed.

It’s undeniable that the increase in mental illness is a direct result of the pandemic.

Using Google search data, a study from Kaleidoscope revealed the most googled wellness trends for 2021, with results showing a strong focus on mental health.

“How to sleep better with anxiety” has increased by 85% and “369 manifestation” increased by 15900%.

This research shows that people are still actively looking for help when it comes to their mental health, so the help and support should be just as, if not more, accessible as it was back in 2020.

Mindset offers mental health and well-being training and Mindset Sport offers the same training to grassroots sports clubs.

Mindset’s founder Matthew started the training and consultancy business just before Christmas after the pandemic put a stop to his attempt to become a mental health first aid instructor as restrictions meant training couldn’t be delivered.

As well as regular public speaking and workshop events, Mindset offers an online training platform that provides bitesize training courses.

They have since expanded their company to offer training to grassroots sports clubs.

Matthew said: “During this time I was also working with my local rugby club on creating some wellbeing resources and the idea came to me that this could all be made available to every grassroots sports clubs across the UK. Mindset Sport was created in December as a free sign posting website and has gone from strength to strength.

“We now have around 15 sports clubs we work directly with, including a rugby club in Canada, touching around 5000 club members.”

Mindset Sport works with Rugby Boot Bank to provide free sport shoes, they have an equipment exchange programme which makes good condition equipment available to others.

Through their ‘Pass It On’ scheme they have their own brand-new sports kit that they sell or that can be bought and donated to someone who may need it.

Most importantly, they offer free training in wellbeing and mental health.

Matthew himself has suffered with mental health issues throughout lockdown, he said: “There are lots of things going on with home-schooling, working from home, setting up a business and my wife’s illness and it has become increasingly difficult to manage all these elements. Also, my coping mechanisms have been taken away, no social contact outside the house, no sports, which I rely on heavily to help manage my mental health.”

He added: “It’s a struggle to fit it all in with only 24 hours a day, along with a day job, home schooling, caring for my wife etc, but I wouldn’t change what I do as if I can help one person then what I do has a purpose, and I love it.”

Lockdown hasn’t affected everyone negatively, however.

Jordan Camp has struggled a lot with mental health in the past but found that lockdown actually had a positive impact on him.

As we entered lockdown his mental health was “the worst it has been for a few years.”

This was due to personal and private situations that saw him back in therapy for the first time in over two years. He said: “During this time the personal and private issues I was dealing with have been handled appropriately. Before lockdown those problems were causing disruptions to my working life and I was failing exams whereas once they were dealt with, I was enjoying work again and endured exam success.”

A couple of days before the first lockdown announcement, due to showing covid symptoms, Jordan cancelled his upcoming therapy session and hasn’t been back since.

Despite lockdown having a positive impact on Jordan’s life, he still believes we should check in on everyone, not just those we know are suffering.

It is important to be the person checking in, rather than waiting for someone to reach out.

“The mental health implications of the coronavirus pandemic will be a pandemic of its own. I’ve had countless messages from friends who have never had difficulty with their mental health before saying they are really struggling.”

When struggling with mental health issues it is vital to reach out for help. Granted, it’s easier said than done, but no one should suffer in silence and the help is out there.

It can be daunting the thought of having to go and see a doctor to discuss how you’re feeling mentally, and many people don’t think it’s a good enough reason to see a doctor.

Hullo offers a freephone line coordinated by a team of 40 trained volunteers and is available for anyone who fancies a chat.

You don’t have to sit and talk about your mental health, you can call just to chat with someone new, to talk about your favourite interests or if you need some guidance. After all, 90% of people feel happier after a conversation with somebody (Hullo, 2020).

You can reach Hullo on 0800 001 4455 from 9am until 9pm. The phone line is available to anyone.

Photo by Dustin Belt on Unsplash.

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