The difficulties getting mental health support during the pandemic
5 May 2020
In these unprecedented times, we are all trying to adapt to the challenges of government lockdown, financial uncertainty and social distancing measures. While everyone is facing a difficult situation, increased isolation and anxiety, as well as a lack of access to support, has made things particularly hard for those of us with mental health problems. Our most recent research emphasised the extent to which people experiencing mental health problems are worried about their financial situation as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. In this blog, we want to share some of the other issues that our Research Community members have highlighted in terms of getting the support they need for their mental health during the pandemic:
Accessing mental health services
“All my support has stopped, my occupational therapist isn’t allowed to visit, and my day centre has closed. I have amongst other things agoraphobia and I’m scared that as I have to remain in my flat that the agoraphobia will become bad again.”
Our survey revealed that 86% of people with mental health problems are concerned about being able to access mental health services during the coronavirus outbreak. These services are a crucial source of support, but some of the people we surveyed have already had appointments rescheduled or cancelled.
Given the vital imperative of protecting people using services – and the NHS staff members who are working tirelessly to provide support – from Covid-19, many people have had face-to-face support rearranged as online or telephone appointments. This is an important and much-needed step by the NHS to support people during the pandemic. However, some people say it is not as easy to communicate this way, and that they may struggle to use these alternatives.
“I’m so isolated. I can’t see anyone. I’m at the point where I end up talking non-stop during phone calls to my bank just because there’s someone listening.“
Our survey showed that 65% of people with mental health problems rely on face-to-face contact as a source of support. We may not normally think about it, but talking to someone in-person can be a really important source of comfort and support. Not only that, but our research shows that many people rely on friends or family to help them access benefits or manage their money – without this support people may be at increased risk of falling into financial difficulty.
Although chatting on the phone, or using video-call services, will be a good replacement for some, those who have accessibility issues may struggle to access or use these alternatives. For people without strong support networks, finding someone to talk to might also be a challenge.
A scary time
“I have moments of anxiety and terror so must limit my media consumption, especially news, but also social media. Paranoia and powerlessness are a difficult combination at the best of times.”
Many of the people we surveyed were naturally worried about friends and family. Being concerned about the financial and mental difficulties that others might be going through, without being able to go and see them, is an added stressor to people’s minds that they may not normally have to deal with.
On top of this, respondents also mentioned that they were experiencing increased anxiety over the constant news about Covid-19. Although some people find the news comforting or reassuring, it can be overwhelming and anxiety-inducing for others. All of us are experiencing increased pressures at this time, but people that experience mental health problems, such as anxiety or OCD, may be finding this period particularly draining.
There is support out there
If you’re struggling with your mental and financial wellbeing during this difficult time there is help and support available. You can find more information here. We’ve also put together a list of online coronavirus related resources here.
These are challenging times for many and we want to change things for the better. Your input can help us break the link between mental health and financial difficulties, join our Research Community here.