A Public Health England survey showing that two thirds of adults in the UK have struggled during lockdown comes as no surprise to Whitstable mum Carol Marks, who has taken up sea swimming to help her mental wellbeing.
The survey found that half of adults (48%), say they are more worried during the current lockdown than last March, and nearly two thirds (64%) of those say the outbreak has already had a negative impact on their mental health. Of those surveyed, it also found that:
- Nearly half (46%) said they had been experiencing more anxiety, stress (44%), sleep problems (34%) and low mood (46%) over the course of the pandemic.
- The most common reasons people thought the lockdown had negatively impacted their mental health were missing friends and family (56%); uncertainty about the future (53%); and worried about family’s safety and health (53%).
- However three-quarters (75%) of the nation are planning to take or have already taken steps to help look after their mental wellbeing.
PHE has launched a nationwide campaign to support people to take action to look after their mental health and wellbeing. It encourages people to get a free NHS-approved Mind Plan from the Every Mind Matters website
Mum of two Carol Marks works for Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT) as a team manager for liaison psychiatry service and is based at Ashford’s William Harvey Hospital. She lost her mother last year, leaving her feeling incredibly low. The 57-year-old said: “When mum died during lockdown in April I really struggled to come to terms with the loss. She was such a big part of my life and a great inspiration. In her younger days she was a swimming champion and had even swum the channel and always encouraged the rest of the family to swim. Pools and gyms were closed so I decided to try sea swimming, as much in memory of my mum than to get exercise.”
Carol joined Kent Sea Swimmers and now swims three to six times a week in her home town of Whitstable and claims it has improved her mental wellbeing, as well as her physical fitness. She added: “I get a real buzz from it. I love being outside in nature, it’s exhilarating and it just clears my mind. Often I see the sun rising or setting and I’ve met a really nice group of people.”
Angela Baker, Deputy Director for Health and Wellbeing at PHE South East said: “While the experience of the pandemic has been different for everyone, there’s no doubt it has caused unprecedented challenges, and, not surprisingly, many of us are now experiencing poorer mental wellbeing.
“Feeling stress, anxiety and worry are very natural feelings in the face of the Covid outbreak, and looking after our mental wellbeing has never been more important. The good news is that our Every Mind Matters has lots of excellent practical tips and advice, and I’d encourage you to join me and get an NHS Mind Plan, which will give you simple steps to help you navigate these challenging times.”
Kent County Council Public Health Consultant, Jess Mookherjee said: “Covid continues to have a major impact on people’s lives in so many different ways – anxieties and worries about jobs, relationships, family and home life, and concerns about the future.
“We are pleased to be able to support the Every Mind Matters campaign and you can also find this excellent online tool at www.kent.gov.uk/wellbeing along with information on local support services including Live Well Kent and the Release the Pressure text service and helpline. Organisations across Kent and nationally are pulling together to support people through this incredibly challenging period.”
NHS mental health services have been open throughout the pandemic and continue to stay open during this lockdown. Speak to your GP for a referral, or you can self-refer via nhs.uk/talk. NHS mental health staff can provide care via phone or online from the comfort of your home. Face to face appointments can also be arranged in many areas. These services are a free and confidential way to get effective help.
If you or a loved one face a mental health crisis, you can find your local NHS 24/7 helpline on nhs.uk/urgentmentalhealth
For more information, contact Jennifer Alford at Public Health England firstname.lastname@example.org