Mental health and wellbeing
It’s important that you take care of your mind as well as your body and to get further support if you need it.
Support is available for mental health issues, even if services seem busy at the moment because of coronavirus.
Find support and advice about:
Staffordshire mental health helpline - Call free from landlines and mobile networks on 0808 800 2234, text: 07860 022821 (free), email: Staffordshire.firstname.lastname@example.org or use their online chat on their website.
Staffordshire Mental Health Service – 24/7 urgent NHS mental health service providing telephone support, advice and triage. This service is available to anyone of any age. Call 0300 5555 001.
North Staffordshire Mind – Call: 01782 262100
Anxiety UK - Providing support if you have been diagnosed with an anxiety condition. Phone: 03444 775 774 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 10pm; Saturday to Sunday, 10am to 8pm).
Bipolar UK - A charity helping people living with manic depression or bipolar disorder.
CALM - Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15 to 35. Phone: 0800 58 58 58 (daily, 5pm to midnight).
Men's Health Forum - 24/7 stress support for men by text, chat and email.
Mental Health Foundation - Provides information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities.
No Panic - Voluntary charity offering support for sufferers of panic attacks and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Offers a course to help overcome your phobia or OCD. Phone: 0844 967 4848 (daily, 10am to 10pm). Calls cost 5p per minute plus your phone provider's Access Charge
OCD Action - Support for people with OCD. Includes information on treatment and online resources. Phone: 0845 390 6232 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5pm). Calls cost 5p per minute plus your phone provider's access charge.
OCD UK - A charity run by people with OCD, for people with OCD. Includes facts, news and treatments. Phone: 0333 212 7890 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).
PAPYRUS - Young suicide prevention society. Phone: HOPELINEUK 0800 068 4141 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 10pm, and 2pm to 10pm on weekends and bank holidays).
Rethink Mental Illness - Support and advice for people living with mental illness. Phone: 0300 5000 927 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4pm)
SANE - Emotional support, information and guidance for people affected by mental illness, their families and carers. SANEline: 0300 304 7000 (daily, 4.30pm to 10.30pm).
YoungMinds - Information on child and adolescent mental health. Services for parents and professionals. Phone: Parents' helpline 0808 802 5544 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4pm).
Burton Mind - 01283 566696 or email@example.com
Changes - Find out more about their online recovery, wellbeing and peer support. Phone: 07983 437747 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you feel great emotional distress or anxiety, feel that you cannot cope with day-to-day life or work, think about self-harm or even suicide, or experience or hear voices (hallucinations) you should get immediate expert assessment and advice:
- If you have already been given a Crisis Line number from a health professional, please call it
- If you’re under the care of a mental health team and have a specific care plan that states who to contact when you need urgent care, follow this plan
- Mind also provides information about how to plan for a crisis, this includes calming exercises and a tool to get you through the next few hours.
- Call one of the helpline numbers
- Contact NHS 111 online service or call 111 if you need urgent care but it’s not life-threatening
- Ask for an urgent GP appointment if:
- You need help urgently for your mental health, but it's not an emergency
- You're not sure what to do
- A GP can advise you about helpful treatments and also help you access mental health services.
- In a medical emergency, call 999 if:
- Someone's life is at risk - for example, they have seriously injured themselves or taken an overdose
- You do not feel you can keep yourself or someone else safe
A mental health emergency should be taken as seriously as a physical health emergency.
These services are free and offer confidential advice from trained volunteers. You can talk about anything that's troubling you, no matter how difficult:
If you already have a mental health problem, then you may be finding the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak particularly challenging. The advice above should help, but here are a few extra things that you may want to think about. This advice is part of comprehensive guidance provided by Mind.
Keep taking your medication
You might be able to order repeat prescriptions by phone, or online using an app or website if your doctor’s surgery offers this.
- ask your pharmacy about getting your medication delivered or think about who you could ask to collect it for you. The NHS website has more information about getting prescriptions for someone else and checking if you have to pay for prescriptions
- continue to order your repeat prescriptions in your usual timeframe. There is no need to order for a longer duration or larger quantities
- your GP practice (or clinical team) may move your prescriptions to repeat dispensing arrangements so you only have to contact your pharmacy to get a repeat of your medicine rather than your practice
- be careful about buying medication online. You should only buy from registered pharmacies. You can check if a pharmacy is registered on the General Pharmaceutical Council website
- you can contact NHS 111 in England if you’re worried about accessing medication
Managing physical symptoms that are triggered by stress and anxiety
For advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) and any symptoms see the NHS website.
If you are experiencing stress, feelings of anxiety or low mood, you can use the NHS mental health and wellbeing advice website for self-assessment, audio guides and practical tools.
Every Mind Matters also provides simple tips and advice to start taking better care of your mental health. If you are still struggling after several weeks and it is affecting your daily life, please contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111.
Managing difficult feelings or behaviours to do with hygiene, washing or fears of infection
Some mental health problems can cause difficult feelings or behaviours to do with washing or hygiene. If you experience this, you might find it hard to hear advice about washing your hands.
It is important to follow government advice on helping to avoid the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), but if you find you are going beyond the recommendations, if this is making you feel stressed or anxious, or if you are having intrusive thoughts here are some things you could try:
- don’t keep re-reading the same advice if this is unhelpful for you
- let other people know you’re struggling, for example, you could ask them not to discuss the news with you
- breathing exercises can help you cope and feel more in control. You can find a simple breathing exercise on the NHS website and Mind’s pages on relaxation have some relaxation tips and exercises you can try
- set limits, like washing your hands for the recommended 20 seconds
- plan something to do after washing your hands, which could help distract you and change your focus
- it could also help to read some of Mind’s tips in their information on obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
Managing panic and anxiety
If you have panic attacks or flashbacks, it might help to plan a ‘safe space’ in your home that you’ll go to.
You can also find ways to comfort yourself if you’re feeling anxious. For example, Mind has games and puzzles you can use to distract yourself, and breathing exercises which may help.
Managing feelings of being trapped or claustrophobia
You are probably spending more time than usual at home so try to get outside if you can, once a day. You could also open the windows to let in fresh air, find a place to sit with a view outside, or sit on your doorstep or in your garden if you have one. It can also help to regularly change the rooms you spend time in (if possible). This can help to give you a sense of space.
If you are reducing your drinking significantly
If you are reducing your drinking, remember it can be dangerous to stop too quickly without proper support. If you have physical withdrawal symptoms (like shaking, sweating or feeling anxious until you have your first drink of the day) you should seek medical advice. For further advice available in your area (including remote services) see NHS advice.
Consider how to connect with others
Maintaining relationships with people you trust is important for your mental wellbeing. Think about how you can stay in touch with friends and family via telephone, video calls or social media instead of meeting in person – whether it’s people you normally see often or connecting with old friends.
Help and support others
Think about how you could help those around you – it could make a big difference to them and can make you feel better too. Could you message a friend or family member nearby? Are there community groups that you could join to support others locally? Remember it’s important to do this in line with guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19) to keep yourself and everyone safe. And try to be accepting of other people’s concerns, worries or behaviours.
Talk about your worries
It is quite common to feel worried, scared or helpless about the current situation. Remember that this is a difficult time for everyone and sharing how you are feeling and the things you are doing to cope with family and friends can help them too. If you don’t feel able to do that, there are people you can speak to via NHS recommended helplines or you could find support groups online to connect with.
Look after your physical wellbeing
Your physical health has a big impact on how you are feeling emotionally and mentally. At times like these, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour which in turn can make you feel worse. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water, exercise inside where possible and outside once a day, and try to avoid smoking, alcohol and drugs.
If you are able to go outside, consider walking or gardening (keeping the recommended 2 metres from others as outlined in the social distancing guidance). If you are staying at home, you can find free easy 10 minute work outs from Public Health England or other exercise videos to try at home on the NHS Fitness Studio. Sport England also has good tips for keeping active at home.
Look after your sleep
Feeling anxious or worried can make it harder to get a good night’s sleep. Good-quality sleep makes a big difference to how you feel mentally and physically, so it’s important to get enough.
Try to maintain regular sleeping patterns and keep good sleep hygiene practices – like avoiding screens before bed, cutting back on caffeine and creating a restful environment. The Every Mind Matters sleep page provides practical advice on how to improve your sleep.
Try to manage difficult feelings
Many people find the news about coronavirus (COVID-19) concerning. However, some people may experience such intense anxiety that it becomes a problem. Try to focus on the things you can control, including where you get information from and actions to make yourself feel better prepared.
It is okay to acknowledge some things that are outside of your control right now but constant repetitive thoughts about the situation which lead you to feel anxious or overwhelmed are not helpful. The Every Mind Matters page on anxiety and NHS mental wellbeing audio guides provide further information on how to manage anxiety.
Manage your media and information intake
24-hour news and constant social media updates can make you more worried. If it is affecting you, try to limit the time you spend watching, reading, or listening to media coverage of the outbreak. It may help to only check the news at set times or limiting to a couple of checks a day.
Get the facts
Gather high-quality information that will help you to accurately determine your own or other people’s risk of contracting coronavirus (COVID-19) so that you can take reasonable precautions. Find a credible source you can trust such as GOV.UK, or the NHS website, and fact check information that you get from newsfeeds, social media or from other people.
Think about how possibly inaccurate information could affect others too. Try not to share information without fact-checking against credible sources.
Think about your new daily routine
Life is changing for us all for a while. Whether you are staying at home or social distancing, you are likely to see some disruption to your normal routine.
Think about how you can adapt and create positive new routines – try to engage in useful activities (such as cleaning, cooking or exercise) or meaningful activities (such as reading or calling a friend). You might find it helpful to write a plan for your day or your week.
Do things you enjoy
When you are anxious, lonely or low you may do things that you usually enjoy less often, or not at all. Focussing on your favourite hobby, learning something new or simply taking time to relax indoors should give you some relief from anxious thoughts and feelings and can boost your mood.
If you can’t do the things you normally enjoy because you are staying at home, try to think about how you could adapt them, or try something new. There are lots of free tutorials and courses online and people are coming up with innovative online solutions like online pub quizzes and streamed live music concerts.
Setting goals and achieving them gives a sense of control and purpose – think about things you want or need to do that you can still do at home. It could be watching a film, reading a book or learning something online.
Keep your mind active
Read, write, play games, do crossword puzzles, sudokus, jigsaws or drawing and painting. Find something that works for you.
Take time to relax and focus on the present
This can help with difficult emotions, worries about the future, and can improve wellbeing. Relaxation techniques can also help some people to deal with feelings of anxiety. For useful resources see Every Mind Matters and NHS’ mindfulness page.
If you can, once a day get outside, or bring nature in
Spending time in green spaces can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing. If you can’t get outside much you can try to still get these positive effects by spending time with the windows open to let in fresh air, arranging space to sit and see a nice view (if possible) and get some natural sunlight, or get out into the garden if you can.
Remember that social distancing guidelines enable you to go outside to exercise once a day as long as you keep 2 metres apart from others who are not members of your household group.
There are an increasing number of health and wellbeing apps available. We are making it easier to help you find apps that can help you to stay healthy and well. Below are some of the top rated apps for mental wellbeing. You can also search a range of health and wellbeing apps across different areas, such as, stopping smoking, improving your mental wellbeing, keeping active and managing health conditions.
How the rating works?
Working in partnership with Staffordshire County Council, Orcha help indicate whether an app appears to be safe and of value across a number of rated areas. Any score below 65% would indicate that an App has some issues that users should investigate further prior to using this App. Scores below 45% indicate that an App has considerable issues or challenges and in its current form is potentially unhelpful or unsafe.
#DoingOurBit – What one thing can you do?
If you know someone who might be having a tough time, reach out to them and offer to talk about things. Just having a chat can make a huge difference.
Helping others is often a great way to improve your own mental health.
Find out more about volunteering on the #DoingOurBit website.