Yes, this is a travel blog but I will be doing a one off post talking about the impact national lockdown(s) have had on mental health issues, the problem in general and my teenage perspective of the issue.
“Mental wellbeing is more than the absence of mental illness. It is linked with an individual’s emotional, physical and social wellbeing and the wider social, economic, cultural and environmental conditions in which they live.“
Mental health is not a distant illness, it can affect anyone, anywhere at any time. Even I have been affected by a loved one and it will affect me for the rest of my life. Although mental health issues may not affect you personally it’s important to remember that it does not mean you cannot help or try to understand someone that has been affected. I am no doctor, no expert but I am aware and I would like to help.
Mental health is a serious issue that is often overlooked. There are dozens of types of mental health disorders and I would be spending the rest of the post listing them if I did, but to name the most common types there are; mood disorders, anxiety disorders, dementia, psychotic disorders and eating disorders. Most of these are called hidden illnesses, which is what makes them so hard to understand and help.
You could have walked past somebody today struggling with one of those and nobody would know.
This year a hundred and one things could have affected someones mental health whether they already struggled with something or if it was new.
People have lost loved ones and not been able to grieve fully, lost jobs, students education has been unfairly handled (myself included) and many are struggling to find employment. I have heard a number of cases where one has gone to an interview, to be told that 500 others tried for the same job- and the situation is predicted to get worse in the near future. I was completing my final year of A-levels when lockdown was put in place. Exams did not take place, many didn’t have the resources or the capacity to learn themselves (lack of motivation at home) and results were unfair (whether good or bad). Because of this situation I saw that universities were making unconditional offers despite whether students had good grades or not, putting it down to the Covid situation, which I found unfair so because of this and a numerous other reasons I decided not to go this year.
I wanted to get a job and I wanted to travel but neither of those things have been possible so far. You book a trip and it gets cancelled, you’re employed and then you’re not, one day you’re in lockdown the next you aren’t. I want to make plans but I can’t. I know that these are the years (18) that are most important, that shape people into who they are and what they will become and that should be spent doing fun or drastic things, testing the boundaries of life, not stuck between four walls being told the world isn’t available. I will never get this year back.
I also know from talking to different elderly people that they feel the same, it is important for the younger generation to carry on as normal. Although I have not been able to do the things I wanted and have seen people my age who are also deprived of doing what they want to do, I am not in as bad a position as some. I have a home and a loving family to support me, some are not so lucky. But it’s not just the fact that people are financially struggling is it? The biggest thing I value is choice. We need to make choices to learn, fail and become. This means we need the freedom and capacity to choose, but it seems we have been stripped of that basic human right, deemed incapable of making the right choice. Surely this alone has to affect people mentally in some way? It most definitely has for me.
We are all suffering this year, some more than others. Social and economic problems are high.
Social isolation is a big problem for many, the highest percentage of people affected are already diagnosed with mental health issues, people living with young children, living in urban areas, young people and people with a lower income. Social isolation is REAL and it can bring on suicical thoughts, depression and anxiety to name a few.
Imagine being stuck in a small flat, in a city with kids over lockdown, only being able to go to the nearest shop, how would that make you feel? Another group to consider are victims of domestic abuse and how they must be coping when they can’t escape their house and have no one to turn to. The elderly have not been able to see their children, grandkids or friends and many live alone. Lockdowns can be frustrating, it can be challenging to work from home while taking care of kids and on top of all this people are also afraid of contracting and passing on the virus (a new level of stranger danger)- it is all affecting us in one way or another.
I would love to find some statistics or graphs to show you on mental health, how many people it affects, who it affects and the deaths caused by it (suicide) but on official sources and websites it currently says “effect of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on suicide unclear”. “As a result of this delay, we cannot yet be sure of the number of suicides that occurred during the coronavirus (COVID -19) pandemic.” Apparently official data will be available in 2021, there are many statistics on other websites but most are unclear and illegitimate.
This being said I can still talk about the ramifications of mental health from previous years. It’s a fact that there is a significant larger amount of male suicides than there are females, and by age group it’s the highest amongst 45-49 year olds for both genders.
“Hanging, suffocation or strangulation (all together) is the most common type of suicide in the UK, accounting for 59.6% (2,912 deaths in 2018) of all suicides among males and 45% (722 deaths 2018) of all suicides among females.” “Whereas the second most common is poisoning, accounting for 36.2% of all suicides among females and 17.9% in males.”
Loneliness, stress, eating and sleeping problems, self-esteem, boredom and worries about the future are normal things to feel in these circumstances but we must push through, we must help each other. Help for people with mental health disorders has always been hard but this year the help that was there is now seriously reduced and it can be difficult to arrange an appointment. Keep trying, try different places or try to open up to a loved one- I’m sure they would want to help. I am always here with a listening ear if anyone feels like a chat.
- Stay connected to your friends and family, online or by phone. Communication is important and we need human interaction.
- Talk about your worries don’t keep them in, worried about the future? Talk to someone, there is always a pair of listening ears.
- PLAN. Bring structure to your life, have a routine if that makes you feel better.
- GO OUTSIDE: Mental health can have a massive impact on ones physical health so not only does going outside provide you with exercise but it helps your mind too.
- DO NOT stay glued to the news be it official or conspiracy. If you watch the news every evening you will only worry yourself more.
- Take time to relax and do try to do things you enjoy. Chat, go for walks, watch films, read books, tell jokes, play (video) games- whatever makes you feel better.
- Try and have good sleep. If you’re not in a routine it’s important to still try and have a steady sleep schedule.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the post and thought about aspects that you may not have thought about before.
If you need help but can’t get it here are some local help centres. If you would like to read some helpful articles or simply want some more information here are some links (try mind.org.uk)