Mental Health and COVID-19

How is your Mental Health during COVID-19

Introduction

  • With everything that is happening in the world with coronavirus (COVID-19), there is a lot of uncertainty
  • It is OK to feel overwhelmed or stressed
  • But it is important to monitor these feelings, to practice self-care, and to seek help if they become disabling.

POSSIBLE EMOTIONAL REACTIONS

  • You may notice some of the following:
    • increased anxiety
    • feeling stressed
    • becoming irritable more easily
    • feeling insecure or unsettled
    • fearing that normal aches and pains might be the virus
    • having trouble sleeping, nightmares
    • feeling helpless or a lack of control
    • having irrational thoughts
    • use/misuse of alcohol or drugs
    • feeling numb and empty
    • major changes in eating patterns
  • It is important to remember that most of us will experience similar underlying feelings at this time, although our emotional behaviour and coping mechanisms are likely to differ vastly
  • Some of us will appear cool, calm and at times cold, or irritable, while others will appear anxious, fearful and at times emotional
  • Some of us will have an intense need for order, control and structure (a “logical” approach)
  • Others will have an intense need to process, discuss and feel (an “emotional” approach)
  • Resilience needs diversity, and we benefit from allowing space for both approaches within ourselves and in others

While some of these symptoms, may be a ‘normal reaction’ to an ‘abnormal situation’, if one or more of these symptoms persist over more than 2 weeks, it would be important to use the supportss listed below, up to and including seeking professional help from the range of agencies and organisations listed.

SELF-CARE

What works for some people when coping with stressful situations does not work for everyone, and it is important to create your own personal toolbox or support plan.  The following suggestions have evidence to support their usefulness in promoting wellbeing  

6 TIPS from WHO on Coping with Stress during COVID-19:

https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/coping-with-stress.pdf?sfvrsn=9845bc3a_2

 

The LifeMatters Take five strategy will help you be aware of your needs and connect with resources and strategies to help.

 

Body

  • The most important foundation for overall health & wellbeing and for keeping stress regulated and manageable
  • Regular Exercise can help you sleep better, manage stress and boost your mood (link to Morgan B Sports section)
  • Try to maintain a healthy eating plan and stay hydrated
  • Prioritise sleep https://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/Resources/Looking-After-Yourself/Sleep (link to counselling website sleep self-help)

Behaviour

  • Develop routines and rituals that you use each day
  • Create and follow a daily routine……KISS Keep it Simple and Structured link to Lisa timetable
  • Make a list - Decide on 3-5 priorities (no more) that you endeavour to complete each day (link to Lisa printout)
  • Limit time spent on COVID-related updates – 2 blocks of 15 minutes per day checking reliable sources (link to main COVID site) is sufficient
  • Spend time in nature
  • Connect with family and friends – having contact with people you trust hugely reduces negative emotions
  • Take breaks

Context

  • We are in the middle of an International Health crisis and most of our lives have been turned upside down in the past few weeks (tips for social distancing Life Matters link)
  • Most of this is out of our control, but some things we can control eg. we cannot control how long College will remain closed, but we can try to study and engage in online learning (link to Lisa powerpoint) (LifeMatters powerpoint)
  • Write your own mantra eg. “this too shall pass”, “I can do this” – be creative!

Spirit

  • Pay attention to and continue to live your values and principles
  • Bring compassion and care not just to others but also to yourself
  • Prayer, meditation, mindfulness (link to mindfulness counselling and Maura wellbeing), yoga can all help here

Mind

  • Take control of negative thoughts and work to reframe them
  • It will be easier to keep calm, clear and focussed if the above are taken care of but the following might help too:
    • Awareness: A daily check in on your mood, energy and presence
    • Attention: Pay attention to the present moment – We can only do one task at a time
    • Pace Yourself: This pandemic is a marathon, not a sprint. Stress might be activating and give us the urge to go faster and work harder. Working smarter not harder will support your effort best at this time. Take mini-breaks and be cautious of the tendency to over-work, push yourself, or neglect your basic needs to eat, hydrate or just pause from time to time
    • Breathe and Be Present: Take a slow deep breath, bring your attention to the present moment – you can schedule this on your phone
    • Schedule Worry Time: If you are finding it hard to focus while worried, schedule a short time (3-5 mins) to write down all your worries or concerns
    • Get Clarity about what You Can and cannot Control: Write down a list of things you can and can't control to focus your efforts and actions on the things you can control.
    • Focus on Success and Strengths: Amidst all the challenges and stress, remind yourself of what strengths and skills you bring to this challenge
    • Stay Connected: It is a good idea to maintain contact with friends and family
    • 3 Good Things : Each day list 3 good things that you have achieved and three things that you are grateful for. This can help us to look out for positive moments in our day
    • Cut down on alcohol and drugs: substances can sometimes numb difficult emotions and can appear to help in the short-term. However, their after effects on mood, anxiety and the ability to study and work are significant and they worsen pre-existing mental health conditions

SUPPORTS AVAILABLE

Step 1: Psychoeducation

People often turn to friends and family first for support, next they look online. Finding yourself reading this site and exploring the links above is psychoeducation.  Additional websites that might help are:

https://www2.hse.ie/wellbeing/mental-health/minding-your-mental-health-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak.html

HSE information on minding your Mental Health during COVID

https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/helping-children-cope-with-stress-print.pdf?sfvrsn=f3a063ff_2

Advice for parents from WHO on how to help children during these times

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMSWxCHMb4k

10 minute video by Professor Brendan Kelly on Coping with Coronavirus.  He has also released an excellent book https://www.amazon.com/Coping-Coronavirus-Protect-Psychological-Toolkit-ebook/dp/B0869TH43N

https://jigsawonline.ie/coronavirus-and-youth-mental-health/

Jigsaw has useful information for young people coping with coronavirus eg. How to manage anxiety, family conflict and routines.  They also facilitate live daily group chats

https://spunout.ie/

Ireland’s youth information website created by young people for young people with sections on coping with coronavirus, study and work

Step 2: Online Supports

The next step is to participate and follow an online workbook or to enrol in an online programme

https://www.ucc.ie/en/studentcounselling/info/

The UCC Student Counselling website provides links to such programmes

https://www.inspiresupporthub.org/ (UCC Company Pin:  UCC12019)

The Staff EAP programme has similar programmes

Additional online evidence based programmes include:

https://suicideorsurvive.ie/online-wellness-workshop/

Online wellness workshop, largely video based

http://www.actcompanion.com/

A training toolkit APP based on the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy model of psychological flexibility.  A mindfulness based behavioural therapy online programme.  Free during the COVID crisis – download on phone and input code TOGETHER

https://ifightdepression.com/en/self-management-resources/ifightdepression-tool

The iFightDepression tool is a guided, internet-based self-management programme for individuals experiencing mild to moderate depression that was developed based on existing evidence, best practice recommendations and user and expert consensus. The tool is free to use and is intended to help individuals to self-manage their symptoms of depression and to promote recovery, with support from a trained GP or mental health professional. The tool is based on principles of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT)  - IS IT FREE – Is there a login code – check with Ella?

STEP 3: Seek Professional Help  

It is important to seek professional help in the following situations:

  • You want help with emotional wellbeing and are struggling to navigate online supports
  • Nothing you have tried seems to have helped
  • Your friends or family are tired of listening to you
  • You are overusing or abusing something to alleviate symptoms eg. alcohol, drugs, food, work/study, sex, gaming, internet, pornography, gambling
  • You have been struggling to sleep or are experiencing negative emotions (eg. low mood or anxiety) for over a week or two
  • You have been having suicidal thoughts (A CRISIS)

UCC Student Counselling (Telesupport) –  UCC Student Health Helpline 4902311

 If you are in CRISIS

  • If you are in crisis, you can contact Crisis Text Line. Text UCC to 086 1800280 to chat anonymously to a trained volunteer 24/7. Any issue. Any time. 
    • Or contact your nearest Accident & Emergency Unit, your local GP or your local GP out of Hours service

 

STUDENTS AND STAFF IN HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONS

http://meetboost.com

Real time resilience guidance created by the SAFEMED team in UCC Dr Margaret O’Rourke.  Subscribe to the free newsletter and ask questions you want answered around this topic

https://www.mindthefrontline.com

A mental health resource for healthcare workers created by Psychiatrists for staff who are concerned about the impact of working during this crisis on their mental health

https://connectacoach.org

Licensed coaches in Ireland providing free coaching to Heathcare professionals during the COVID crisis.

https://www.supporttheworkers.org

It is targeted towards staff providing psychosocial support to frontline workers and aims to equip them with an evidence based response. As our knowledge to date suggests, this support may be more relevant in the months to come as the more immediate basic needs of frontline workers take priority at the moment.

 

 

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