Those suffering with mental health issues under strain due to Covid restrictions

By Alyssa Drysdale

The ongoing global pandemic has affected everyone in various ways and while some battle the queues at their local supermarket, others are facing an even bloodier battle in their heads.

The height of the coronavirus lockdown in the UK during the summer months, took its toll on thousands of individuals suffering with a mental health disorder as many felt lonely, isolated and distanced from getting the help that they needed. 

Many mental health charities have seen a significant increase in the number of people coming to them looking for help as one study by the Mental Health Foundation found that during late July 2020, 49% of the population felt anxious in the last two weeks. 

The Mental Health Foundation noticed the link the pandemic would have on mental health and stated: 

“Whilst the coronavirus pandemic has impacted all aspects of our work, including transitioning into being an entirely remote-working and digital organisation, it hasn’t stopped us from delivering our critical mission. In fact, we have rapidly adapted and started new work so that we are able to play a positive role in addressing the mental health impacts of the pandemic and the lockdown measures.

We were one of the first organisations in the world to talk about the mental health impact of the pandemic back in February and, together with others, we saw quickly that the pandemic will not affect everyone equally, and that its mental health impact could last longer and be more significant than its physical health impact.”

Many are feeling lonely and isolated during the pandemic whilst charities are struggling to cope with higher number of callers.

Flourish House, a mental health charity based in Glasgow, has had to change how they operate in terms of helping their members gain the necessary skills while still remaining a supportive environment during these difficult times.

Stefan Krajcik, a spokesperson for the charity said: “The mental health has deteriorated in a lot of cases, there is no question about it. The isolation made it worse by not letting people meet or connect, in one way or another. We have started to rely on digital inclusion but that has not always been possible with some of the people that we work with.”

The charity runs on the belief that its members all have the potential to overcome the effects of their mental health issues. The members can gain access to the support and services that they require in order to form friendships, gain the education and the employment they need in order to live a fulfilling life. 

In trying times such as these, charities like Flourish House, ensures that peoples’ health, whether that be physical or mental, are looked after. They also encourage individuals to speak about their issues and make them feel comfortable in regard to seeking help and also encourages them that there is support for them in the future if they ever need someone to talk to again.

Although the number of Covid cases fluctuates and the new virus vaccine seems to be creating a great sense of hope that the virus will be contained in the near future, those working at such mental health charities know that the number of people looking for help will take some time to come back under pre-covid rates. 

Krajcik said: “It will take some time, I don’t think it will just rope all of a sudden. There is certainly a waiting list in terms of the people applying to use our service. So, we will have to deal with a lot of people in terms of wanting one on one support with each other. It won’t just be a quick fix, you know, once we get the vaccine, everything will go back to normal.”

Although these are challenging times for everyone, it is vital that people are made aware that there is always someone out there that wants to help you and that you are not alone. If you are feeling down, it is important that you speak to your GP so that you can get access to the appropriate support necessary. There are many helplines for those that are needing a little bit of help during these harsh times with varying opening times but please be aware that call times may be slightly longer as many charities are seeing an increase in the number of callers.

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