Portsmouth People Talk About Mental Health and Covid-19

Carolyn Barber of Portsmouth’s Good Mental Health Cooperative, and local researcher and social entrepreneur, shares advice and resources on how to manage your mental health in lockdown. This week, Carolyn reports on a survey the Coop are running on how local people are managing mental health during the pandemic.

Last week, we started down an uncertain path asking people about their experiences and thoughts about emotional health and mental wellbeing. We’ve had some thought-provoking, insightful feedback, real examples of difficulties people are experiencing, and also how people are taking care of their mental health. Thanks so much to all those who’ve contributed so far.

Here is a sample of comments people added at the end of the survey.

[Editor’s note, these have not been edited to preserve the voice of respondents]:

Pressure on relationships and heightening any communication issues is a challenge. Encouraging compassion in respect of each others feeling is important.

It’s important to focus on the good things that come out of this such as having more time to look after ourselves – things we normally don’t have time to do (for me this is things like moisturising my body every day) and to look forward and keep imagining and hoping what it is going to be like once restrictions are eased and we can see our friends and family. I look forward to doing simple things like going for a coffee and going to a toddler group with my boy and this keeps me going.

For me the starting place with friends and family is to keep reiterating that anyone who isn’t experiencing higher levels of stress and anxiety right now either doesn’t know what’s happening in the world, or is in denial. There is no way for this not to be affecting even the most grounded and mentally healthy among us. I have found that regardless how many barriers has to talking about mental health in relation to themselves, this starting point always leads to really productive conversations.

Even though we are in unchartered territory with this pandemic, things will get better. We are in this together. Stay connected, try to look outside of your own situation.

Lockdown is probably easier for someone like me – older, an introvert, reasonably comfortable home, no financial worries, able to shop online. For me I think a big issue will be breaking lockdown – I think I’m becoming almost agoraphobic and will be very fearful of mixing with people more, and so being more exposed to the virus. Have spoken to friends of a similar age who are also concerned about the easing of lockdown. I think for many the mental health crisis may come when we emerge from lockdown and are exposed to more risk of infection / see family members more exposed and are perhaps forced to take these risks at work, school and college. Part of returning to ‘normal’ will involve giving up a measure of control over ones own safety. Obviously there are keyworkers already in this position so I imagine this must already be an issue.

My one concern is that I have felt there has been too much information, I have felt overwhelmed. I seriously worry about our mental health in the future.

I’m trying to wear things I’ve saved for best or wear a necklace or jewelary that matches my outfit. I’m using my nice body lotions and not saving them for best. Have pamper baths.

I have done a lot of mindfulness which has stopped me from over thinking every thing

i think amongst all the difficulties people are showing strength and resilence we wouldn’t always see. There is an understanding of why they have to do this and that seems to be a focus point.

Much speculation and false facts on social media and in the news. Helpful to stick to known resources for information and focus on the what we know on the day.

I think people are already identifying that Covid19 and isolation and its consequences will lead to lot PTSD; although it may be difficult to see in others and the joy of normality may mask it.

if people have access to the internet there is a wealth of information. However people need support with motivation or someone to actually encourage uptake and engagement. More use of approaches such as ACT and solution focused therapy for people.

My team have been doing lots around getting peoples prescriptions and food deliveries to them. I think it hits the people most who were already feeling isolated before the virus. I also feel, and have had this fed back to me from clients, that everything is on-line and as they are unable to access this this has made them feel even more isolated.

If you’d like to contribute to this wider conversation, take a look at this survey and share your experiences and thoughts too. Its completely anonymous.

Click here to complete the survey

Each week I’ll be sharing a range of strategies and resources to help you build mental and emotional resilience during the Covid-19 crisis.

This is just as important as our physical strength if we were planning to run a marathon! And just like our physical health, taking care of our mental health is about establishing good habits as part of our regular routine. 

We’ve been hard at work updating the Resources section of the Good Mental Health Coop website – these are resources you can use to build your mental and emotional resilience during these testing times. The Resources are divided under 4 themes – Meet, Relax, Learn, Create – please take some time to browse and check them out. 

Click here for Resources for Resilience


This article was originally published as a newsletter. Check out the Good Mental Health Coop website, where you can sign up to receive Carolyn’s weekly mental health updates by email, and find out more about the amazing work the Coop do. You can also follow the Coop on Twitter and Facebook, and you can read all of Carolyn’s articles for S&C here.

 Image by Wonkandapix from Pixabay

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