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Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

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Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

Looking After Your Mental Health in Lockdown

Friday, 17 April 2020



 
We are now in the fourth week of the lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus. I’m delighted to say that the majority of our residents have followed the social distancing guidelines throughout the Easter bank holiday weekends, and some have even found more creative ways to support each other and our key workers. To all of you I say, thank you. It may not feel like it at the moment, but every day that we protect ourselves and others is another victory in the fight against this terrible pandemic. 

By now I’m sure that everybody is familiar with the physical symptoms of coronavirus; coughing, fever, muscle pains and, in serious cases, difficulty breathing. We also know that some people need special attention due to being the most at risk from the pandemic, such as the very elderly and those with pre-existing conditions. However, today I want to talk about a different kind of threat posed by the coronavirus; not to our bodies, but to our minds.

It’s estimated that, even in normal times, one in four of us experience a mental health problem in any given year. The past four weeks have been about as far from normal as you can get, and a number of experts are warning that there is a danger that it could lead to a full-blown mental health crisis that will persist long after the coronavirus itself is defeated. It is well known that pandemics can have a significant impact on mental health. To give just one example, after the SARS epidemic, which killed hundreds of people in Asia in the early 2000s, there was a marked increase in cases of post-traumatic stress disorder in the countries affected by the virus.

The lockdown has wrenched all of us out of our usual comfortable routines. Simple things like meeting up with our friends and family, going for an afternoon out, or even commuting to and from work every day are not possible at the moment. Many residents are also facing very real financial worries as a result of being out of work or temporarily furloughed. Furthermore, at the moment we have little idea of how long the current lockdown measures will be required for, which only adds to the uncertainty. Under these conditions even those who have not experienced issues in the past may be vulnerable, and those who already struggling with their mental health could be at risk of deteriorating further. As well as the dangers for mental health in general, there could also be a number of knock-on issues such as increases in domestic violence or drug and alcohol abuse.  
Over the past few weeks we have been working closely with Tameside and Glossop NHS Clinical Commissioning Group and a number of charities and community groups to make sure that we have mental health support there for those who need it during this difficult time. To minimise the need for people to travel to hospitals or GP surgeries, most of these will be provided through text messages, video chat and mobile phone apps. Some of them put users in touch with trained volunteers or emotional support groups, while others provide resources and techniques that can be dipped into as and when you need them. The complete list can be found here, and we will be adding to it as more services become available. Even if you don’t think that you need this kind of help, there are still ways to protect your mental health. Little things like keeping in touch with people who matter to you via phone, e-mail and social media, or creating a new daily routine that prioritises looking after your mind and body, can make all the difference.

There will come a day, and hopefully it will be soon, when we will be able to put this pandemic and lockdown behind us. Until then, I ask you once more to please continue to stay at home, stay safe, and protect yourself and others, not just physically but mentally as well. We will successfully do this as we have successfully done everything throughout this crisis, by coming together and trusting in the power of our families, friends and communities to see us through these difficult times.        

Posted by: Executive Leader


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