Support is there as lockdown takes its toll on mental health

Mental health charities across the Midlands say they are seeing increasing calls for help as the winter lockdown continues.

Experts have raised concerns that the restrictions could have a significant and long-running impact on people’s mental health.

A recent survey carried out by the Shropshire Star revealed six out of 10 admitted to being psychologically damaged by the events of last year.

  • See a list on services on-hand to help those who need it below.

Psychologists say most people are experiencing an increase in anxiety, linked to concern about Covid, changing circumstances at work and uncertainty about the future.

And for some the effects can be more severe, particularly as the current lockdown is happening in winter with its dark nights.

A study carried out last year by University of Glasgow also showed that the first lockdown had a major impact on the UK’s mental health.

But mental health expert Dr Duncan Astle of Cambridge University, warned that the latest shutdown could have a much more severe impact on people’s wellbeing compared to the previous two.

“A winter lockdown, in which there are fewer hours of daylight and when it is more difficult to engage in outside activities like exercise, may make a winter lockdown more impactful for mental health, relative to a spring lockdown,” he said.

“The feeling of uncertainty is also a common symptom in those who experience poor mental wellbeing.”

Fortunately, there is plenty of support available for people needing help during this time, although the increase in demand has inevitably put pressure on these services.

Dr Astle said a further problem was the fact that the latest lockdown had been called in response to a new, more infectious strain of the virus, which could itself heighten feelings of uncertainty. Together these factors may make a winter lockdown more challenging for maintaining good mental health,” he said.

Organisations in the region have seen increased calls, with people suffering both in urban areas like the Black Country and more rural areas like Shropshire and Staffordshire.

Sara Emsley, of Shropshire Mind, said while the lockdown rules had forced it to close its drop-in services, the charity was still providing extensive telephone support to anybody who needed it.

She said the Calmer Cafe, which before the lockdown enabled people to meet in a more relaxed environment, was still available for those who needed one-to-one support, but was now by appointment only.

Connected

Mrs Emsley said the charity was providing support to 140 people at the moment, with demand having grown steadily since the start of the pandemic.

“Even when the lockdown eased off, people didn’t feel reassured anything was different,” she said.

“There are still people who are experiencing problems, or who are scared of going out. I think a lot of people won’t feel safe until they have been vaccinated, or they think it is all over.”

Mrs Emsley said the charity had increased the number of people manning the phones to cope with the extra calls.

The Black Country Healthcare Foundation Trust offers 24-hour telephone support, seven days a week.

Councillor Nicolas Barlow, cabinet member for health at Dudley Council, said mental health was just as important as physical health.

He said it was important that people stayed connected with others during the lockdown.

“Being in lockdown need not mean isolation,” he said, adding that people should continue to keep in touch with friends and family by telephone or through video conferencing.

Councillor Barlow urged people to also support others who might be experiencing difficulties at the moment.

“Some people are reporting feeling hopeless and lonely,” he said.

“I urge everyone not only to look after themselves but to look out for others during these tricky times.”

SERVICES WHICH CAN OFFER HELP

Mind UK:

Mental health support.

0300 123 33923

Saneline:

If you are experiencing a crisis:

0300 304 7000

The Mix:

Support for the under 25s.

0808 808 4994

Black Country Healthcare Foundation Trust:

0345 1461800

Dudley Pleased to Meet You:

For people feeling lonely

01384 812761

Silverline:

For older people who need a chat

0800 4708090

Samaritans:

For anyone in a crisis

116 123

Shropshire Mind:

Mental health support.

01743 368647

Shropshire triage service:

For out of hours help

01743 210100

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