Mental Health Must Remain Front Line
Physical and mental health are separate, yet inseparable.
Sometimes, when it comes down to it, it's a bit like the chicken and the egg scenario. Is it our mind (brain), or motor (heart) that is at the forefront of life and survival? Everyone will have their own experiences and answers.
Our mental, physical, and spiritual health combine to form wellbeing and wholeness. While each may ebb and flow along our life journeys, they are of equal importance overall.
It certainly feels as though COVID19 has gate-crashed our sense of wellbeing for 2020! Just as the Christmas and New Year upheaval felt behind us, and we were regaining rhythm and order once more... COVID19 crashed into our lives!
Absolutely and understandably, as a new virus with unknown properties, the focus is on managing, treating, and understanding this disease. I am deeply thankful for our NHS and medical teams working to make progress through this time. Likewise, I am thankful for the multitude of keyworkers.... from social workers... to delivery drivers... to shop keepers and assistants.
However, as a counsellor and mental health practitioner, I am acutely aware of the impact of COVID19 on people's mental health. People who haven't suffered with anxiety or low mood before are struggling now. For many people with anxiety and depression, it's a time of change, loss, loneliness, triggers... and a lack of/ reduction in support.
Anxiety and depression (as just two examples of mental health symptoms) can be completely debilitating.... and in extreme situations life threatening. COVID19 arrived before we had time to prepare. Normally reliable coping strategies haven't proved quite as reliable...
Lockdown. Social distancing. Social pressure. Isolation. All activities cancelled. Family and friends aren't available. Face-to-face contact in only essential circumstances. Yes, there's video options... much better than nothing, but not the same. 1 x walk a day.... a lifeline IF it's a good mental health day. If it's not a good mental health day, getting out of bed can feel like climbing Everest.
"I don't get how it's that bad" other people comment and judge. Like everything, you don't know until you experience it.
Hence, my purpose in writing this short blog. Just as physical health, mental health is vital. Yes, we need to come through this COVID19 time physically well... but also mentally healthy and resilient to keep moving forwards and making progress with our lives.
Therefore let's remember self-care is vital. How we interact with fellow people is vital. Whether in person or online, it's important to be open minded and non judgmental. As cliche/ familiar as the expression sounds... you don't know what another person is going through. Be kind, always treat people as you'd like to be treated.
Counselling, mental health, and support services play a key and often essential role for individuals. These services also need recognition and support at this time.
COVID19 means challenging times. To pull through these times, our physical and mental health need to be front line priorities.