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The impact of Covid-19 on our mental health

During the coronavirus pandemic, many of us have encountered a change within our mental health given the uncertain circumstances we have faced this year.

Mental health risks associated with Covid 19 have disproportionately affected young people, especially those who are already disadvantaged and marginalised, according to research by The Island.

Within York, the charity ‘The Island’ has been supporting young people through the pandemic. The charity has received many more requests for support and due to capacity, it has not been able to respond to them all. 

Nigel Poulton, Chief Executive Officer of The Island said: “Due to the impact of Covid we have primarily focused on meeting the needs of the 138 young people we have on our current waiting list and ensuring that we offer them the right things they need at the right time.

“The great news is we have received an increasing volume of people wishing to become Volunteer Mentors, meaning we can encourage our training opportunities to get the young people matched with 1.1 mentors.”

The charity has offered services including food and activity hamper deliveries and a pen pal service, as well as introducing a one-to-one mentoring support group.

During the nationwide lockdown The Island, like many charities, has adapted how they assist people. Nigel said: “Technology platforms such as Zoom are invaluable to us, not only for supporting young people, but also ensuring we can continue to communicate with partners, funders and ongoing supporters of the charity.

“We will always encourage people to reach out if they need help. The Island has a helpline available to support families through advice, guidance, signposting and sometimes just a familiar friendly voice.”

The pandemic will have a prolonged impact on society and The Island is well established to provide a supportive service to young people.

Within the lockdown over half of adults (53.1%) said that they felt Covid-19 had impacted their well-being. The reasonings for this can be seen below, with prior issues affecting well-being including being worried about the future and of feeling stressed and anxious.  

Information accredited from the Office of National Statistics (2020). 

Students have been affected by the turn of events this year. The strain of a pandemic whilst studying has had an evident impact on students as nearly three quarters (73%) of students said that their mental health declined during lockdown (Mind, 2020). 

Emma Palmer, President of Wellbeing and Diversity at York St John University offers her suggestions on how to look after ourselves during isolating and lockdowns. Emma said: “I think communication is key. The worst thing you can do when you’re sat at home is to not talk to anybody, but by just texting your friend and having a general conversation about life is really helpful thing.

“If you are struggling with work, there is nothing wrong with taking a day off for a mental health day, or just saying I need to do this but right now I haven’t got the mental capacity. Even though you will have deadlines, your mental health does have to come first.”

Lockdown has undeniably changed many of our outlooks with the increase of online events, making meeting new friends more challenging. Some students have highlighted the difficulty of online learning and have faced worry about the prolonged amounts of screen time resulting within screen fatigue.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.
Emma provides her recommendations on how to look after ourselves during isolating periods:
  • Keep trying to get some fresh air, if you have to isolate, open the windows.
  • Form some kind of routine. This could include changing your bedding, brushing your hair or cooking a meal.
  • Try and do two positive things each day. Find the positives in everything because it’s very easy to focus on the negatives of not being able to see friends or family.
  • You’ve now got some more me time to try something different, like a home workout or an online course.
  • Take each day step by step and at your own pace. There are no set rules or guidelines on how you should do things so just be steady with yourself. Do what works for you.

As lockdown tiers lessen over the Christmas period and vaccine developments being approved, it is hoped that reuniting with loved ones will bring more purpose and hope to many. 

Emma Palmer said: “I am really hoping it will be a good reset for students having this break, where they can go home for Christmas or stay in York.

“It will be nice to chill out and relax with your friends and family and to get back the time that you might have lost during lockdown, as it is very difficult seeing people over the phone and going home to see your family will really benefit those students.”

Should you or someone you know require support please visit the Mind website.

Or call 0330 123 3393