Mental Wellbeing Guide
As news about coronavirus (COVID-19) dominate the headlines and public concern is on the rise, Disability Equality Scotland would like to remind that taking care of your mental health is as important as looking after your physical health. Especially if you are self-isolating or social distancing, good mental health and positive wellbeing can help you better cope with COVID-19 and the uncertainty it is creating in our lives.
There are many things you can do in order to ease any anxiety you may have around coronavirus, such as:
1. Seek accurate information from legitimate sources
Limit yourself to reading information only from official sources like the World Health Organisation (WHO), the European Commission or reliable national sources (for example, the BBC). These credible sources of information are key to avoid the fear and panic that misinformation may cause.
2. Set yourself limits around reading news
Constant monitoring of news updates and social media feeds about COVID-19 can intensify feelings of worry and distress. Consider turning off automatic notifications and taking a break from the news. Setting boundaries to how much news you read, watch or listen will allow you to focus on your life and actions over which you have control, as opposed to wondering ‘what if?’. WHO advises seeking factual information mainly to take practical steps to prepare your plans and protect yourself and loved ones.
3. Look after yourself
Self-care in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak includes focusing on things you can control (like having good hygiene) instead of those you cannot (stopping the virus). Where possible, maintain your daily routine and normal activities: eating healthy meals, getting enough sleep and doing things that you enjoy. Consider creating a daily routine that prioritise your wellbeing and positive mental health. Activities, like taking a walk, meditating or exercising, can help you to relax and will have a positive impact on your thoughts and feelings. The Mental Health Foundation, for example, recommends that you see it as an opportunity that might have benefits like finally catching up on sleep.
4. Think positive
Try and focus on things that are positive in your life. WHO recommends to find opportunities to amplify the voices, positive stories and positive images of local people who have experienced the novel coronavirus and have recovered or who have supported a loved one through recovery and are willing to share their experience.
5. Ask for community or professional support
Follow protection and prevention recommendations provided by qualified health professionals. If all of this does not help, consider reaching out for support by a professional counsellor or peers. Peer support is usually organised on a local or national basis so it is best to start your search with those in your local area so that you can actually talk with someone who knows what is available. Using terms such as ‘peer support for mental ill health’ or ‘mental health service user organisations’ and your locality into your internet search engine (e.g. Google) may well be helpful.
SCVO (Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations) have launched a Community Assistance Directory for people in Scotland to find and offer help in their local community. Here, you can select the type of support required, and search by postcode for services that may be relevant to you:
Resources and Helplines
There are also a number of organisations that offer advice through online resources and free free phone lines:
- National Assistance Helpline: 0800 111 4000. set up to provide essential assistance to those who don’t have a network of support but who are at high risk of contracting COVID-19.
- SAMH mental health information hub: www.samh.org.uk/about-mental-health/self-help-and-wellbeing/coronavirus-information-hub. information, links and resources that can help keep you informed and protect your mental health.
- Breathing Space: breathingspace.scot or call 0800 83 85 87. A confidential helpline for people to call when they are feeling down or distressed.
- Samaritans: samaritans.org, call 116 123 or email email@example.com Talk things over in confidence with an experienced listener, or send an email.
- Age Scotland: ageuk.org.uk/scotland/or call 0800 12 44 222. A free, confidential phone service for older people, their carers and families in Scotland. Their team provide information, friendship and advice.
We have also produced an Easy Read version of this information, an accessible format designed for people with a learning disability. The easy read format is easy to understand because it uses simple, jargon free language, shorter sentences and supporting images.