The COVID-19 pandemic spiraled the country into national lockdowns that had increased negative effects on many people’s mental health.
Data from the UK Household Longitudinal Study suggests that the “average mental distress (measured using GHQ-12) was 8.1% higher in April 2020 than it was between 2017 and 2019”. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-mental-health-and-wellbeing-surveillance-report/2-important-findings-so-far.)
Megan Greaves, University of Lincoln Students’ Union Lead Mental Health Champion, said: “Lockdown has definitely affected people’s mental health. There has been a lack of socialisation and freedom, boredom, fear when it comes to leaving the house and being in contact with people, and the lack of routine that we’re so used to.”
The Well Centre, a private psychiatry clinic in Lincoln, provided support for clients around the country over lockdown through video meetings.
Elaine Lovell, Practice Manager at The Well Centre, said: “We used video conferencing which people who live out of Lincoln probably found useful, although from a clinicians point of view it is often better to see the person face to face to understand their body language. But we may well offer this as an option in the future to give patients choice.”
Despite the lockdown causing a rise in mental distress nationwide, The Well Centre didn’t see a rise in referrals.
“We are a private clinic and although we reduced our free by £100 for the first consultation, financially people probably couldn’t afford our service.”
With the recent lift of restrictions allowing people to socialise indoors again, many people are reunited with their families and friends.
Megan Greaves said: “The easing of lockdown may help mental health due to more socialising, seeing family and friends, freedom and getting back to things we know and love. However, it’s important to say that it’s okay if the easing is also a trigger for anxiety.”
Many believe that mental health is not taken seriously enough and that there isn’t enough funding going into the support for those struggling with it.
Elaine Lovell said: “Sadly we think a lot of people will be suffering because in some cases the loneliness of the situation and the fact that there is difficulty accessing NHS services for mental health support. However, this isn’t new, the mental health services have been underfunded for many years.”
If you’re someone struggling with your mental health, don’t suffer in silence. You can find help through the NHS here (https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/nhs-voluntary-charity-services/charity-and-voluntary-services/get-help-from-mental-health-helplines/) or you can pay for private consultations with services such as The Well Centre (https://www.thewellcentre.co.uk/).