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New advice to support mental health during Coronavirus outbreak

by Gemma Melling

People struggling with their mental health during the Coronavirus outbreak will be offered additional online support and practical guidance to help them cope.

In recognition of the unprecedented challenges which the outbreak and extended periods of self-isolation can pose, Public Health England has published new online guidance on the Government’s website setting out principles to follow to help people to manage their mental health during this difficult time, such as:

  • Maintaining contact with friends and family via telephone and video calls, or social media.
  • Keeping a regular routine and sleeping pattern.
  • Focusing on a hobby or learning something new.

Parents and carers will also benefit from tailored advice on how to support children and young people with stress during the Coronavirus outbreak, which includes providing clear information, being aware of their own reactions and creating a new routine.

The guidance issued on Sunday, 29 March, has been developed in partnership with leading mental health charities and clinically assured by the NHS. It also includes steps that those living with serious mental health problems can take, including seeking support from their mental health teams.

The Government has also announced a £5 million grant for leading mental health charities, administered by Mind, to fund additional services for people struggling with their mental wellbeing during this time. This could include telephone and online support services for the most isolated and vulnerable in our communities.

Cllr Sean Donnelly, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, added “During these challenging times, we really need to look after our mental health. It’s important that we need to stay at home if we are to beat Coronavirus and it’s only natural that people feel worried and anxious, but there is help and support available. Remember to check on your friends and family by phone and talk about your worries with others – we are all in the same situation and can share feelings and things that we are doing to cope.”

Public Health England has updated its world-leading Every Mind Matters platform with specific advice on maintaining good mental wellbeing during the outbreak. People can also complete a ‘Mind Plan’, a quick and free tool that has already been completed over 1.8 million times.

The Government and NHS England recognise that the mental health impacts of the coronavirus outbreak are significant and are working closely with mental health trusts to ensure those who need them have access to NHS mental health services.

This includes issuing guidance to trusts on staff training, prioritisation of services and how to maximise use of digital and virtual channels to keep delivering support to patients. NHS Mental Health providers are also establishing 24/7 helplines.

You can access free easy ten minute work outs from Public Health England or try other exercise videos at home on the NHS Fitness Studio. Sport England also has tips for keeping active at home.

Visit the NHS mental health and wellbeing advice website for self-assessment, audio guides and practical tools, if you are experiencing stress, feelings of anxiety or low mood.

If you already have a mental health problem, you can access comprehensive guidance provided by Mind.