Mental health support during the coronavirus outbreak

In recognition of what it dubs ‘the unprecedented challenges which the COVID-19 outbreak and extended periods of self-isolation can pose’, Public Health England has published new online guidance setting out principles to follow to help people manage their mental health ‘during this difficult time’. Key suggestions include: 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.

 

  • Mental Health Minister, Nadine Dorries, also announced that people struggling with their mental health during the coronavirus outbreak would be offered additional online support and practical guidance to help them cope, with the guidance developed ‘in partnership with leading mental health charities’.

The Government 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’.

Yvonne Doyle, Medical director at Public Health England, said: “During these challenging times, it is natural for all of us to feel worried or anxious, but there are things we can all do to help ourselves and others, to prevent these feelings from becoming more serious. 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 that 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.”

Public Health England updated its ‘world-leading’ Every Mind Matters platform with specific advice on maintaining good mental wellbeing during the outbreak.

Claire Murdoch, NHS Mental Health director, said: The NHS is stepping up to offer people help when and how they need it, including by phone, facetime, Skype, or digitally enabled therapy packages, and we also have accelerated plans for crisis response service 24/7.

We are determined to respond to people’s needs during this challenging time, and are working with our partners across the health sector and in the community. NHS mental health services will be there through what is undoubtedly one of the greatest healthcare challenges the NHS has ever faced.”