• Mental Health

    The Cottage Magazine
    03 April 2020

    During the coming weeks and months it is vital that we don't neglect our mental health. We are all going through an experience that we haven't had before, with many of the things that we enjoy suddenly taken away. Most grandparents are facing a long time without being able to play with or cuddle their grandchildren. We can no longer socialise with friends or neighbours, and we have suddenly gone from seeing work colleagues every day to seeing them at all. Add to this the pressures of being confined for a prolonged period - the difficulties of keeping usually - active children inside a lot of the time, the challenges of home-schooling, the disruption of routine and the pressures on relationships. Many will worry about family finances or whether the business they've spent many years setting up and growing will still be financially viable when the restrictions are lifted. (See my article outlining the help available to businesses and more at Then you have the most serious worry of all - that if you, or someone you love, has a serious health condition and were to catch coronavirus it could be fatal. 

    My advice is fourfold. Firstly, please adhere to the Government's guidelines on how we should all be behaving ( How long we have to endure this lockdown will largely depend on whether we respect the need to stay at home and not make any non-essential journeys or not. At the time of writing there is some very early indication to suggest that the spread of coronavirus is slowing and that the lockdown is working.

    Secondly, Public Health England has published new online guidance to help people to manage their mental health and I would endorse all their suggestions. These include maintaining contact with friends and family via telephone and video calls, eating healthily, maintaining physical activity where possible, keeping a regular routine and sleeping pattern and focusing on a hobby or learning something new.

    Thirdly, if you really need it, seek professional help. The government and NHS England recognise the importance of mental health provision and are working closely with mental health trusts to ensure those in need have access to NHS mental health services. Action is being taken    to establish a crisis response service, 24/7 helplines are being set up and phone or digitally-enabled therapy packages are being put together. Funding for mental health charities has been increased by £5 million.

    Finally, think of others. Check in (via phone, email or social media, not in person) on relatives and friends who may be lonely. Don't take your frustration out on others. It is not ok to shout at a supermarket checkout worker because the supermarket didn't have an item you wanted and it is not ok to post nasty comments on social media that impact someone's mental health. Let's look out for one another, be kind and focus on the things that we can control. Take care and stay well. 

    For more from Mel follow him on twitter @MelJStride or visit