“I sometimes still struggle with suicidal thoughts”: How COVID-19 has affected mental health

By Jael Lutandila

Coronavirus has had a strong impact on people’s mental health. Many mental health institutions have tried to support and engage with the most vulnerable ones to tackle these issues. It has been difficult as many people found it challenging to reach out for help. 

According to a Mind charity survey carried out from 9 April to 18 May 2020, a quarter of adults and young people who tried to access support were unable to do so as they felt uncomfortable using phone/video call technology and believed they did not deserve the support. 

Rebecca Conlon, Mind Supporter Relations, declared: “Mind provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. The charity campaigns to improve services raise awareness and promote understanding. Mind won’t give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets support and respect.” 

More than half of adults and over two thirds of young people reported to the Mind charity that their mental health worsened during early lockdown restriction from April to mid-May.  

The Give Us a Shout 85258, a free confidential 24/7 text messaging support service organisation, has provided support via digital platforms where their volunteers carried out conversations for anyone who struggled with mental health.  

Their conversation volume however, doubled compared to pre-pandemic as people needed more support. This has increased from 475 per day to 925 per day since the start of the pandemic. Text conversations rose from 750 in March 2020 to 1,400 per day in early January 2021.  

The main reasons people texted Shout during this time were suicide (34%), depression/sadness (32%), relationships (27%) isolation/loneliness (18%) and self-harm (15%). 

Out of all age groups, it was 18-24 years old who were most likely to talk to them about suicide.  

A study funded by the Department of Health and Social Care carried out a report on the Mental Health of Children and Young People in England in 2020 due to COVID-19, following up to a 2017 survey.  

The reported rates show that probable mental disorders have increased since 2017. In 2020, one in six (16.0%) children aged from five to 16 years old were identified as having mental health disorders. This has increased from one in nine (10.8%) in 2017. The increase was evident in both boys and girls.  

54.1% of 11 to 16 years old children and 59.0% of 17 to 22 years old young people with a probable mental disorder were more likely to say that lockdown had made their life worse.   

Sharing her mental health experience was 22-year-old Hannah Workman, who in 2018 started a YouTube channel to highlight her mental health journey.   

She said: “I think it’s important to remember it’s not one treatment that fits all because that’s not how it works.

“I sometimes still struggle with suicidal thoughts, but I now have the skills to cope and not act on these thoughts.”

She added: “I am glad to have come this far and realise that I do have the capability to manage my distressing thoughts.”

“I am glad to have come this far and realise that I do have the capability to manage my distressing thoughts.”

Hannah Workman, 22, of Bristol

Her experience with mental illness began in secondary school when she was referred to Children and adolescent’s mental health services (CAMHS) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). At 18 years old, Hannah was in and out of adult mental services where she received support and treatment.

Advice from experts for those who are suffering from mental health  

The Mind Charity: If you feel lonely, think about things you can do to feel close to others. For example, putting extra pictures up of people you care about might be a nice reminder of the people in your life.  

Hannah Workman, mental health advocate: Talk, don’t keep it to yourself. I can promise you aren’t alone, and you are so worth the support that is out there.  There are a lot of books around these days which can be so helpful, and YouTube is also filled with some amazing videos, motivational videos, self-help videos and mediation videos. You are worthy of support and you deserve help. 

Mental Health Foundation: Talking about your feelings can help you stay in good mental health and deal with difficult times. Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and can help you concentrate. Therefore, this is also a significant benefit towards improving your mental health

York university student Lucy Home, 21, explains how COVID-19 has affected her mental health

For further help and information contact:

Mind

The Samaritans

The NHS – tips for staying at home

Mental Health.org.uk

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