No man is an island
by Dr Niruban Ratnarajah
We’ve all seen the stories of people being admitted to hospital with Covid-19 or suffering long-term physical effects of the virus.
What is less immediately noticeable is the impact that coronavirus and its associated lockdowns and restrictions have had on people’s mental health.
People who already had mental health issues may have noticed these worsening during the last two years, especially if the support or treatment they usually receive has been affected.
But GPs and health services are also seeing people who have developed problems as a direct result of the pandemic.
I’ve spoken to patients who have had all of their Covid vaccinations, but are still extremely anxious about going out because they are scared of catching the virus.
Rules on shielding, initially brought in to protect vulnerable people, have inadvertently triggered loneliness and depression in some people; and, while many employees have enjoyed working from home, others have felt isolated and really missed seeing their colleagues, going out for a meal or a drink after work, or maintaining relationships.
Many young people in particular have struggled, being away from their classmates at this crucial time in their lives, especially if there is limited space or other problems at home.
Feelings of anxiety and depression can affect us all, but the good news is that you are not alone.
Please contact your GP practice if you’re struggling. Many have specialist mental health practitioners who can refer you for CBT or counselling, and some can also prescribe medication.
Alternatively, there is a range of services in Bolton which can help. Find out more,
The NHS has recently launched a campaign to highlight the free and confidential services which are available to treat common mental health issues. Your GP can refer you, or you can refer yourself: go to nhs.uk/help
Talking about your mental health can be difficult which is why Qwell, which provides online support for people aged over 26 in Bolton, has “opening up” videos to help make those conversations easier.
Meanwhile, the new NHS Better Health campaign is encouraging people to take simple actions to help someone who might be lonely. Getting in touch and asking if they fancy a cuppa or a walk can make all the difference – and benefit you as well.
Humans are social animals, and interaction is so important in maintaining our wellbeing. No man is an island, even if we live on one!