As the coronavirus spreads, more and more people are becoming anxious about what it might mean for themselves and their loved ones. It’s completely understandable and normal to feel anxious about during emerging health crisis. In a timely and very welcome move, Shropshire Council has published a guide to maintaining wellbeing and reducing anxiety during the Covid-19 emergency.
The 22-page guide links to dozens of online resources to help, your friends and your family cope with anxiety, relax and have fun during unprecedented times. Phone helpline numbers are also provided.
Download Looking after your Mental Health during COVID-19 (PDF).
The guide says our brains are predisposed to focus on threat. We tend to forget the everyday things and bring our attention to things which are scary, without taking time to really think about the facts.
“We start with one worry and before we know where we are it’s grown and grown and we’re now headed for a full on catastrophe (the “what if… but then what if…” scenario), even when the likelihood of each possible thing coming true may be minimal. Anxious thoughts get in the way of our minds taking in what we need to know and deciphering fact from fiction.”
It emphasises finding a source of information about coronavirus which is reliable rather than relying primarily on social media.
“The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak may cause you to feel anxious, stressed, worried, sad, helpless, overwhelmed, confused or angry. It’s important to remember it is OK to feel this way and that everyone reacts differently to different events.”
“Financial pressures can have a significant negative impact on our mental health and can be amplified even more when there is economic uncertainty.”
“Make time for worry, but also put in boundaries with how much mental space you will allow coronavirus to take. Think about what is in in your control and what is not. Worrying about coronavirus will not guarantee a better outcome, so to help you in the moment schedule some coronavirus free time where you can put your attention onto something else.”
The guide gives a list of advice and support services available with phone numbers and internet links. They include:
- Local immediate support for anyone needing a confidential listening ear or may be experiencing a mental health crisis. This includes help lines for children and young people and their parents.
- Online resources for managing wellbeing during the Coronavirus pandemic. Ideas on what you can be doing to keep mentally healthy during the pandemic and whilst staying at home.
- Resources for parents, carers and services working with young people. Guidance on managing stress and anxiety in children and young people.
- Resources aimed at children & young people to keep mentally well. Advice for under sevens up to teenage years.
- Physical health and mobility. With schools and leisure facilities closed and many of us spending more time at home, it is more important than ever that people keep moving and stay healthy and positive. The resources featured aim to provide help with exercise “which can make us feel happier, more energised and more optimistic.”
- Employment and money worries. Financial pressures can have a significant negative impact on mental health and can be amplified even more when there is economic uncertainty. The resources listed provide useful information and advice on keeping financially safe.
- ESLA 14 Day Challenge. Emotional Literacy Support Assistants support the teaching of emotional literacy or emotional intelligence in schools. The ESLA website team have launched a 14-day challenge for schoolchildren.
The guide provides a list of activities that people can do while stuck at home. Baking, blogging, cooking, dancing, DIY, home picnics, learning magic tricks, sorting through the paperwork and many more ideas.
Advice is provided to GPs and primary care workers on supporting the mental health of children and young people during the COVID-19 outbreak. There is also advice for young people who have to social distance or self-isolate, and for their parents. This advice is supplied by medical professionals at stem4, which supports positive mental health in teenagers.