Mental health risk?

Some people forced into isolation will find it very difficult


9 Practices To Help Maintain Mental Health During The Coronavirus Lockdown

As many of us are being told to hunker down in our apartments and houses, and limit trips outside and social contact, things are feeling pretty "real" at this point. Aside from the general worry people may have about their physical health as they digest the news from around the world and here at home, there's the larger toll this is taking on our collective mental health. Lots of organizations have put forth guidelines to help combat the stress of the coronavirus pandemic, and with good reason: One of the main weapons we have to fight the virus is social distancing-a deeply unnatural practice for humans, but an essential one.

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What impact could the coronavirus have on mental health?

By Joe Harker

The government has imposed a lockdown on the UK, telling people to stay indoors unless it is absolutely necessary to go out.

People can leave their homes if they are a key worker and must go to work, they can go out to supermarkets to shop for the essentials and they can go out once a day for exercise.

However, they can't go out to see other people or be part of social gatherings and the social distancing measures of staying two metres away from other people must be used when out and about.

The Claim:

A GP has written in the Metro of his concern over the mental health of some people who will have to be on lockdown.

Dr Mohammedabbas Khaki writes that the most vulnerable in society are going to be suffering with little in the way of support, warning that people are becoming anxious at what they are hearing and feeling restricted in their own homes.

He also notes that several people have contacted him to say the changes coronavirus has forced upon the country has left them unable to do several parts of their daily routines which make them feel comfortable.

People are feeling anxious and cooped up, unable to see loved ones or do the things they look forward to in a day. It's not the ideal set of circumstances for those with mental health concerns.

Dr Khaki also suggested the mental health of frontline NHS workers would be at risk as doctors and nurses scramble to tackle a crisis unlike any they've seen before and are under an immense amount of pressure when they were already being stretched thin before the coronavirus.

The Counter Claim:

The World Health Organization has suggested people concerned about their mental health and stuck in isolation at home should stay away from news they suspect will be distressing, focusing only on official government instructions which are necessary to know.

They also recommend channeling efforts into finding useful information for planning on dealing with the new normal around coronavirus, focusing on things you can do and ways you can help rather than being stuck inside worrying about everything.

Nicky Lidbetter of AnxietyUK said the WHO advice could help people feel like they were in control of the situation instead of powerless and plugged into scary news updates.

Concentrating on what can be done is better than worrying about things you have no control over. You can't stop the coronavirus yourself but you can be responsible and feel like you're making a difference by encouraging others to be responsible too.

Other advice involves developing new routines and keeping the home clean, it's where you'll be spending almost all your time after all, and maintaining social contacts from a distance. Call a friend or family member and chat to them.

The Facts:

Millions of people across the UK are either having to self-isolate or are spending most of their time in their homes due to the new lockdown conditions.

Many mental health services will still be offered remotely and staff are keen to stress that although the services will be offered in a different way they will still be available.

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As a GP, I fear coronavirus's impact on the UK's mental health

'I always knew this was the way I was going to die - in my home, all alone. '

I'd just broken the bad news to my 54-year old patient Mary that she has to self-isolate after contracting a new cough and fever, and I'm concerned for her.

Despite her background of anxiety and depression, she's been stable for a number of years. She's relapsing - and she's not the only one. Most patients I'm seeing now are anxious about their health, their livelihood, and their inability to pick up fundamentals like over-the-counter medicine because of stockpiling.

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