The Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) recently stated that we are facing a “tsunami of mental illness” from problems stored up during lockdown. Last week marked Mental Health Awareness week, 18-24th May; but this is one area that should always be taken seriously. Mental health matters - not just for a single week, but every day of every year.
Mental health matters
The World Health Organisation (WHO) published a report back in 2001 that stated that “one in four people across the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. And, a more recent study carried out by the UK’s Mental Health Foundation in 2018 shows that 74% of the sample interviewed “felt so stressed that they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope.” We were obviously living with a national and international crisis well before the current coronavirus conditions forced us into lockdown. No wonder the RCP is worried.
Realising that you are not alone and that many share your problems might help. Talking therapies can be effective, but gaining access to a skilled therapist can be difficult - particularly at the moment. The NHS website suggests that there is access to counselling and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, (CBT) but even in normal times this can include a lengthy wait for services. If you’re suffering from a mental health problem you’ll probably want to see a therapist sooner rather than later.
The Mental Health Foundation, the group behind Mental Health Awareness Week, suggests that currently if you’re at all worried and need support, you should contact your GP or present yourself at the local A&E department. For many, these answers aren’t enough. The foundation does though, have some constructive advice for anyone concerned about their mental health while staying or working from home and not in crisis. Routine, exercise, communication and relaxation all help in the fight against stress. But, again, if you’re severely stressed you won’t want to get out of bed - let alone go for a run.
In the current situation where our independence and ability to make decisions about our future is fragile and so dependent on the effects of the pandemic, it is a good time to plan and create ideas for every potential scenario. Weddings have been cancelled, relatives and friends have died, domestic finances have dwindled for those who cannot work and yes, life is very frightening.
This is the time to reach out. Communication with others can help. If your boss, your friends or even a complete stranger at the end of a helpline are aware of your state of mind - they might be able to advise in the absence of an easily available mental healthcare professional. This NHS list of anxiety tips might also help.
The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness week is kindness. Anxiety, stress and depression can be utterly debilitating but you can release the body’s natural endorphins by carrying out small acts of random kindness.
Fear of failure can act as a trigger for some people’s mental illness. A 2018 article in Psychology Today suggests that if we view failure as a learning opportunity, and recognise that we can gain many useful skills and tools by dealing with it, we can become stronger.
You could be kind to yourself by realising that perfection isn’t always achievable and that we, as a species learn through our failings and mistakes. Perfection isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
One of the more positive messages to come out of this period is from a YouGov poll carried out in April 2020, 72% of UK adults agreed “it’s important that we learn from this crisis in order to be more kind as a society.”
There is always hope.
Celina is a good friend of The User Story, and we’d like to thank her for writing this article for us. If you’re interested in working with a fab copywriter and editor, you should get in touch with her!
Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash