COVID-19: online support and practical guidance offered to mental health service users

COVID-19 pandemic 'puts a huge burden on mental health services', says RCN mental health lead Catherine Gamble 

Maintaining contact with friends and family is vital for people who are struggling to cope with their mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Picture: iStock

Public Health England (PHE) is offering online support and guidance for people struggling with their mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Online support offers advice for mental health service users

COVID-19: guidance for the public on mental health and wellbeing offers 14 ways to maintain mental health and well-being as well as advice for mental health service users that covers:

  • Managing difficult feelings or behaviours concerned with hygiene, washing or fears of infection.
  • Speaking to members of their mental health team.
  • Managing panic and anxiety.
  • Managing feelings of claustrophobia or being trapped.
  • Dealing with a mental health crisis or emergency.

More general suggestions include:

  • Maintaining contact with friends and family by telephone and video calls or social media.
  • Keeping a regular routine and sleeping pattern.
  • Focusing on a hobby or learning something new.

Parents and carers will also have tailored advice on how to support children and young people with stress during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Catherine Gamble

Demand for mental health services remains high as people feel isolated and vulnerable 

RCN professional lead for mental health Catherine Gamble said: ‘We mustn’t forget that the current COVID-19 crisis puts a huge burden on mental health services and the nation’s mental well-being. Demand for mental health support was high even before the government’s isolation measures came in to stop the spread of COVID-19.’ 

Ms Gamble added: ‘Among those coming back to health and social care will be mental health nurses who will bring their experience and expertise in promoting hope by helping patients and healthcare staff with the emotional burden of this ensuing health emergency.’

£5 million grant for mental health charities will fund extra support services

The PHE guidance has been developed with leading mental health charities, which will receive a £5 million grant, administered by Mind, to fund additional services for people struggling with their mental well-being. These services will include telephone and online support services for people who are most isolated and vulnerable.

NHS England's national mental health director Claire Murdoch said: ‘The NHS is stepping up to offer people help when and how they need it, including by phone, FaceTime, Skype or digitally enabled therapy packages and we also have accelerated plans for crisis response service 24/7.’

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