A better Medway
Published: Monday, 18th January 2021

A new survey, commissioned by Public Health England (PHE) at the start of the current government restrictions, reveals the impact coronavirus has had on adults’ mental wellbeing across the country.

The research found that almost half (49 per cent) felt that the pandemic has impacted negatively on their mental health and wellbeing (53 per cent of women and 45 per cent of men). Of those surveyed, significant proportions of the population said they had been experiencing more anxiety (46 per cent), stress (44 per cent), sleep problems (34 per cent) and low mood (46 per cent) over the course of the pandemic. The following were the most common reasons people thought the lockdown had negatively impacted their mental health:

  • 56 per cent missing friends and family; and loneliness 33%
  • 53 per cent uncertainty about the future; with financial and employment worries 27 per cent
  • 53 per cent worried about family’s safety and health

However, at the same time three in five (60 per cent) of those asked say they feel hopeful about the future. Many adults (75 per cent) reported that they are planning to take or have taken steps to look after their mental wellbeing, with exercising regularly (32 per cent) eating well (29 per cent) and talking more to family and friends (28 per cent) being the main actions.

To support people during this time, PHE has launched a nationwide Better Health - Every Mind Matters campaign to support people to take action to look after their mental health and wellbeing and help support others such as family and friends. The campaign encourages people to get a free NHS-approved Mind Plan from the Every Mind Matters website. By answering five simple questions, adults will get a personalised action plan with practical tips to help them deal with stress and anxiety, boost their mood, sleep better and feel more in control. Over 2.6 million Mind Plans have been created since it launched in October 2019.

The Every Mind Matters COVID-19 hub also includes practical tips and support on how adults can deal with uncertainty, how to cope with money and job worries and how to look after both their own and their family’s mental wellbeing while staying at home.

The campaign is supported by a coalition of leading mental health charities, including Mind, Samaritans, Young Minds and Rethink.

Help navigating these challenging times 

Clare Perkins, Director of the Mental Health Programme at PHE said: "While the experience of the pandemic has been different for everyone, there’s no doubt it has caused unprecedented challenges, and, not surprisingly, many of us are now experiencing poorer mental wellbeing.

"Stress, anxiety and worry are very natural feelings in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak, and looking after our mental wellbeing has never been more important. The good news is that our Every Mind Matters COVID-19 resources have lots of excellent practical tips and advice, and I’d encourage you to get a free NHS Mind Plan, which will give you simple steps to help you navigate these challenging times."

You are not alone

Minister for Mental Health, Nadine Dorries, said: "It is understandable that many of us will be feeling fed up, worried and anxious about the weeks ahead. For most, these feelings will subside as we draw on our own resilience, adapt to new circumstances and take comfort from the hope of better days ahead. However, there are simple steps we can all be taking to improve our mental wellbeing.

"Every Mind Matters’ mental health resources include tailored advice, as well as practical tips on sleep and self-care. It enables you to create your own ‘Mind Plan’ by answering 5 simple questions to receive tips and practical advice tailored to you.

"Whoever you are and whatever your situation, you are not alone and if you are struggling, there is support out there so I urge you to reach out and ask for help."

'More important than ever before that we look after our mental wellbeing'

Cllr David Brake, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder covering Public Health, said: “We have all been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and national lockdowns and it is more important than ever before that we look after our mental wellbeing. We are committed to offering guidance and support to residents who are feeling worried or anxious in these challenging times. It is vital that residents know that they are not alone and we are pleased to be supporting Public Health England’s Better Health – Every Mind Matters campaign.”

The research also revealed differences in the negative mental health impacts the pandemic is having on younger people. Those aged 18 to 34 are more likely to report that COVID-19 has caused them more stress (51%) and made them feel more lonely (43%).

To support this age group, the campaign has sought the support of celebrities including footballer Wayne Bridge, Bridgerton actress Phoebe Dynevor, presenter Vick Hope and Celebs Go Dating receptionist Tom Read Wilson. The supporters all recognise the importance of helping people improve their mental wellbeing during these uncertain times and have spoken openly about their own personal experiences of mental health and the steps they are taking to look after their own wellbeing.

Better Health - Every Mind Matters also offers information and videos to help young people look after their own mental health and provides dedicated support to help parents and guardians look after the mental wellbeing of the children and young people they care for.

For those who are struggling with anxiety or depression, NHS talking therapies are here to help. NHS mental health services have been open throughout the pandemic and continue to stay open during this lockdown. Speak to your GP for a referral, or you can self-refer via nhs.uk/talk. NHS mental health staff can provide care via phone or online from the comfort of your home. Face to face appointments can also be arranged in many areas. These services are a free, and a confidential way to get effective help.

If you or a loved one face a mental health crisis, you can find your local NHS 24/7 helpline.

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