Mental Health and Wellbeing during Covid-19

Mental health concern or disorder is when an individual display an emotional or behavioural pattern that is considered abnormal for the individual or the society, they live in.  It can impair or causes distress to their everyday functioning such as; working, getting dressed, socialising, sleeping, etc. This can impact an individual’s mental and emotional part of the body which takes place in the brain.  Just like physical health, mental health needs support, love, understanding and care for an individual to recover from it. However, mental health is often misunderstood, stigmatised and discriminated against. Mental and physical health are interlinked in many ways, and one can have an impact on the other.

Although experts are not exactly sure of what causes a decline or a complete breakdown in mental health, many of these factors can contribute to a mental health disorder.

Substances (whether recreational or prescribe):  Substances are complex chemicals that react to the chemicals and electrons in our brain. Sometimes these reactions have a very negative impact on the overall functioning of the brain which can cause a mental health breakdown.

Life Stressors: Life is full of ups and downs (stressors) and sometimes too many stressors can have a significant impact on our mental health and wellbeing. Life stressors can be anything and everything an individual finds difficult to overcome, so things like finance, bereavement, job loss, divorce, parenthood, exams, isolation, illness, etc. can be stressors.

DNA: This is one factor that is really hard to trace as most of us only know our DNAs up to our grandparents, grandaunts/uncles so, we don’t really know our family history let alone the different personalities and medical histories. However, if any members of your family had suffered from a mental disorder, then there is a possibility that you may suffer from one. Your DNA can also be linked to your coping mechanism and resilience you are with life stressors.

Lifestyle: Lifestyle is looking more at your diet and sleeping pattern (even though the above factors are part of your lifestyle). The type of food we consume; the amount of food we consume; the length and quality of sleep we receive can have an impact on our mental health. 

People you associate with: The people we associate with and the interaction we have with them can have an impact on our mental health.

Weather: The weather also has an impact on our mental state. Us Brits (as well as most Northern and Southern hemisphere countries in the world) are very much aware of this during seasonal chances such as winter.

Below is a list of the different types of mental health concern an individual can be affected by with brief information of what it is and how it effect can take place. Please note that individuals can suffer from more than mental health concerns.

Anger: We have all felt anger at some point or another. However, this becomes a disorder when an individual cannot manage it and exact their frustrations on others in a physical and/or emotional outburst frequently.

Anxiety and Panic Attack: It is an intense emotional worry (this is when our adrenaline is increased to the Fight, Flight or Freeze response) that increases our heart rate and blood pressure. Anxiety and Panic Attack can be caused by a thought, a feeling or a physical sensation.

Bipolar Disorder: This is a mood disorder and can affect individual people differently as we all experience different moods in a slightly different way. There is also different severity of the disorder. There are two parts to Bipolar, which are Manic or Hypomanic episode and Depressive episode. A Manic/Hypomanic episode is when the sufferer is on a high and a Depressive episode the sufferer is on a low.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder: This disorder is when an individual is overly anxious about their body image. This can present itself in eating disorders, over exercising and excess cosmetic surgery.

Clinical/Chronic Depression: This is a very deep, dark and extremely low mood type of depression, where an individual can self-neglect and seize to (or finds it extremely difficult to) function in their everyday life.

Hoarding: Finding it very difficult to throw anything away (regardless of the value), has emotional attachment to things and feels anxiety at the thought of throwing anything away

Loneliness/Isolation: Feelings of being along and physically being alone for a long period of time without any social interaction.

OCD: This stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. This is a disorder that has two components which are Obsession and compulsion. Obsession is a repeated but unwanted thoughts, images, worries, doubts and urges in an individual mind. This can cause a feeling of anxiousness. Compulsion repeated activities or actions that helps to reduce anxiety cause by the obsession.

Personality Disorder: Is having difficulties in relating with others and yourself, and having problems in coping with day to day life.

Perinatal Depression: is a depression that is associated with pregnancy and up to the first year after giving birth.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: It is an anxiety type disorder that can happen after experiencing and/or witnesses a traumatic situation or events

Psychosis: This is when an individual interprets and/or perceive reality differently from those around them and their society (this can be delusion, paranoid delusion, hearing voices, etc.)

Schizoaffective Disorder: Is both mood and psychotic disorder that can happen within a couple of weeks from each other during a single episode and can cause individual to self-neglect.

Schizophrenia: This disorder can cause hallucination, delusion, paranoid delusions and disorganised speech and thought. Individual suffers self-neglects

Seasonal Affective Disorder: This is a type of depression that individuals can experience during a particular season (weather) or time of year.

The signs that you or someone you know may be suffering from a mental health breakdown are:

Eating problem/difficulties: Having difficulties in eating where they will play with their food or hide their food. They may also over eat (more so than their normal eating habit)

Hypomania: Full of energy, over spend and shop a lot, extremely happy and euphoric, over talkative (can’t get words out fast enough), increase in sex drive, easily distracted in thought and concentration, irritable and agitated (please remember that this should be outside of the norm for the individual)

Paranoia: This is when an individual thinks and believe they are under threat (even though there are little to no evidence of this) or have an exaggerated suspicion (i.e. people making a nasty rumour or comments about them)

Self-Esteem: It is how individual perceive and value themselves based on self-opinion and beliefs. During a mental health break down, individuals can have very low to nonexistence self-esteem.

Self-Harm: This is a coping mechanism, where individual participate in self-destructive behaviour to help cope with difficult events, situations, feelings, thoughts and painful behaviour. Self-harm is a short term realise pressure and pleasure but the original distress is still present as it have not been dealt with (also self-harm may cause other distress as a result).

Sleeping Problem: Finding it very difficult to sleep and feeling more tired than usual.

Suicidal Feeling: Feeling that you cannot go on living and that life would be better minus you (but this is wrong as you may be causing more harm to your loved ones than you will realise). Please remember that all problem has some sort of solution and help should be seek immediately if you or someone you know have these feelings.

To get support there are many people and organisations you can turn to, to receive the right support.

Hospital: You can go to the accident and emergency department who will then contact the right team and professionals to help and support you

Call: You can dial 999 (UK), 911 (US) and 112 (Europe) to be transported to emergency department if you are unable to go (please remember that this is for serious emergency- for example if you feel suicidal). Also, you can call 111 NSH direct (England) or 0845 46 47 (Wales) for advice if it is none emergency.

Samaritans: In the UK you can call the Samaritans for free on 116 123 who can then provide you with a good listen ears and advice (if you need any)

Crisis Team: In the UK you can contact your local crisis team who are specialist mental health professionals available to provide you with the support you need.

Crisis House: Offers a short-term support in a residential setting Crisis House can be a safe haven for many

GP: Your GP will refer you to the right mental health team or professionals

Therapy: Every area has at least one specialist services that consists of Psychologists, Psychotherapists which may include: Psychologists, Arts therapists (including Arts/Music and Sound/Dance and Movement and Drama Therapists), Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners, Occupational Therapy. These are highly trained professionals who will try to provide you with the right type of support. These are the many therapy service you can access: Anxiety UK, Mental Health Matters, IAPT (England)

Medication: Your GP or a Psychiatrist may prescribe you medication

CMHT (UK): CMHT stands for Community Mental Health Team, this is a specialist team that contains many health professionals to support you in your road to recovery in the community and at home. The professionals can be made up of Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Mental Health Nurse, Occupational Therapist, Social Worker and now an Employment Specialist. These key workers are there to support you with every aspect of your life from understand your illness and medication (if you are on one), to providing you with your medication, finance, working life, family dynamic, physical health, etc.

Charities (UK): There are many charities that can provide you with support and possible advocacy such as Mind, Young Mind, Samaritans, Mental Health Foundation, Nightline Association, Beat, Calm, Shout, The Mix, OCD Action, Turning Point, Rethink, Cruse Bereavement Care, Rape Crisis. These are some of national charities but there are local charities as well- ask your GP or your local NHS mental health services for more information.

Reference:    

Mental Health UK: https://mentalhealth-uk.org/help-and-information/conditions/

Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mental-illness/symptoms-causes/syc-20374968

World Health Organisation: https://www.who.int/mental_health/management/en/

Mind: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/

Mind: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/guides-to-support-and-services/seeking-help-for-a-mental-health-problem/where-to-start/

Mind: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/guides-to-support-and-services/crisis-services/getting-help-in-a-crisis/

Photo by Camila Quintero Franco on Unsplash

Photo by Claudia Wolff on Unsplash

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