There can be very few people who have not suffered from some mental health problems as a result of the Covid pandemic, writes Dr Isabelle Cullen.
The effects of the illness itself as well as lockdown are far-reaching.
Some have been ill and may be experiencing prolonged symptoms.
Some have suffered the loss of loved ones having been unable to be at their sides or join together at funerals.
Many struggle with the isolation of lockdown while others endeavour to work from home with the extra burden of home-schooling.
Carers have been faced with the extra burden as a result of shielding and restricted services.
Frontline workers have been working demanding shifts for months and many are physically and emotionally exhausted.
At the same time significant numbers have been unable to work and lost jobs and businesses.
In my ‘usual’ work as a GP I spend a lot of time speaking to patients about mental health problems.
This part of my work has increased dramatically since the first lockdown in March 2020.
These days I rarely speak to any patient without some reference to the ongoing strain caused by the various aspects of ongoing restrictions to our lives. Low mood and anxiety are common problems.
As we enter another lockdown I think we are all affected by the feeling of lack of control and the sense that there is no clear end in sight.
Please remember that you can contact your GP to discuss any mental health issues you may have.
While it is important to understand that these feelings can be a normal response to trying times, it can make a big difference having a chance to discuss your feelings.
These days I rarely speak to any patient without some reference to the ongoing strain caused by the various aspects of ongoing restrictions to our lives. Low mood and anxiety are common problems
Dr Isabelle Cullen
Although it sounds obvious, it’s also important to remember the benefits of lifestyle factors such as good diet and exercise. Looking after yourself can be very therapeutic.
Your GP can signpost you to various services available for ‘self-referral’ for counselling, clinical psychology etc.
In some cases medication can be of benefit.
Despite the ongoing rates of infection and this latest lockdown there is very definite reason to be optimistic with the roll out of the vaccine programme.
In the meantime if you are having difficulties with your mental health please contact your GP.
I am including some helpline numbers below.
Samaritans 116 123
Mind 0300 123 3393
Calm 0800 58 58 58
Women’s Aid 0808 2000 247
Age UK 0800 678 1602
Childline 0800 1111
YoungMinds 0800 018 2138