Look after your Mental Health

Infectious disease outbreaks, like the current Coronavirus (COVID-19), can be scary and can affect our mental health. While it is important to stay informed, there are also many things we can do to support and manage our wellbeing during such times.

For all urgent concerns about mental health and learning disability issues please contact Devon Partnership Trust, our local NHS mental health provider. Their First Response Service: Single Point of Access 24/7 on 0300 555 5000 is there to support both the public and professionals

  • Consider how to connect with others- be it a regular call with family or friends, using social media or reaching out to one of the support groups in your local area. For a full list see https://www.torridge.gov.uk/communitysupport .Podcasts, which are free to download, can also be helpful by allowing you to listen to other voices, and both books and audiobooks can also be accessed from the Devon Libraries website. But be careful about use of social media- it can easily feel claustrophobic or panic you with fake news or rumour.

  • Help and support others- stay active and occupied as much as possible, be it with jobs around the house or garden or alternatively getting out and volunteering, either for a community group or as an NHS volunteer. Being part of something bigger adds real mental health worth in these lonely, isolated times!

  • Talk about your worries- it's ok to feel worried or anxious- most of us do. If you don't have anyone that you feel you can talk to then the NHS have helplines to support you- https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/ .

  • If you are worried about your children and their mental health there is support available https://youngminds.org.uk/blog/talking-to-your-child-about-coronavirus/

  • Look after your physical wellbeing - if you're able to get out then we're so lucky to be surrounded by amazing places to walk, run or cycle, appreciating being able to be in nature at the moment. If you can't get out then even doing laps of a garden can achieve great things, or setting yourself a target for how many stairs to climb in a day or lengths of a room to build up into a bigger target. Every little counts, and having a target to aim for is really useful to focus the mind and add purpose!

  • Look after your sleep- good sleep patterns are useful to reduce anxiety levels. Trying to keep normal routines, avoiding screen time just before bed, cutting back on caffeine and also alcohol all help add to a more restful night.

  • Finding ways to smile- be it something nice to eat, a call with someone who makes you laugh or just enjoying an episode (rather than 10) of your favourite programme.

  • Keeping your mind active - is it time to learn that language you always wanted to using an app like Duolingo or getting on YouTube to learn a new skill? There are all sorts of courses around for free at the moment, from learning to make fresh pasta through to GCSE Maths available from Learn Devon. Using apps like Headspace or Calm can also help you to understand how to manage your mental health and anxiety, while podcasts can provide a great way to learn- Dr Rangan Chatterjee's Feel Better Live More podcast features stories from guest experts in the field of health and wellness. Topics include depression, running, diet and many more.

Every Mind Matters and COVID-19

The Every Mind Matters campaign supports people to manage and maintain their mental health. To support the public in maintaining mental wellbeing while at home, the Every Mind Matters website now features specific tips to deal with anxiety around the virus. Read: '10 tips to help if you are worried about coronavirus', here.