Lockdown mental health: 'It has been hard talking about my feelings'

Mental health problems are a big issue

Six million people were prescribed antidepressants in the three months to September - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

What a difficult year it has been.

We’ve endured three lockdowns, months of restrictions, lonely periods of self-isolation, lost jobs, home schooling, children fearful and fractious, food banks struggling to meet demand, unsettling anxiety and the world’s fifth-highest death rate.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by it all. I know I have.

Coronavirus harms our communities in many ways, with devastating personal tragedies, too. We struggle to maintain an equilibrium, living on top of each other; next to inconsiderate, lockdown-breaking neighbours, days of endless homeworking and little or no contact with our extended families and friends.

No wonder UK online searches for terms like ‘panic attack’ hit record levels. Six million people were prescribed antidepressants in the three months to September, more than ever before. I found sleeping almost impossible.

Lyn Brown official photo

Lyn Brown is aware of mental health issues that have arisen during the Covid pandemic - Credit: House of Commons

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When it gets too much, I turn off the news channels, play my sax for 10 minutes, turn on ClassicFM or grab a book. It is hard talking about my feelings, my fears. My postbag tells me it’s the same for many of us.

We’re bombarded with public health reminders to wash our hands, wear a mask, stay home and keep our distance; but government offers scant advice to help us safeguard our mental health.

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This is a damaging oversight. It can be hard to give ourselves permission to take a break, to look after ourselves and ask for help.

Talk to your GP, if you need a bit of help managing the stress, sleeping at night or calming those inner fears. There are local mental health support services and the Samaritans. If you think you could do with just a little support to take the edge off, give them a call.

The rules are easing. We’ll see our friends, family and loved ones again. I dearly hope this is the beginning of the end of this difficult time. However, I fear it will bring other challenges, as our economy begins to reveal the damage wreaked by the virus and the poorly-executed Brexit.

It’s so important we give ourselves some love and seek help, if we need it.

  • See Newham Council’s website for details of the mental health services available in your local area: newham.gov.uk/health-adult-social-care/mental-health-support-services
  • Newham Counil operates a 24-hour Mental Health Crisis helpline, if you or anyone you know needs to speak to a mental health professional: 0800 073 0066
  • If you think you need professional help, but are not sure which kind of service you need, you can consult NHS Direct by phone at any time on 111 or online at: 111.nhs.uk
  • To talk anonymously about any difficult thoughts or feelings, you can call the Samaritans by phone: 116 123
  • If you’re not ready to talk, you can email the Samaritans: jo@samaritans.org
  • In case of emergency, call: 999.

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