While lockdown has been found to have affected many individuals' mental health negatively, research suggests that things may not necessarily improve for them as it eases.
Whilst many people have undergone prolonged periods of isolation, there are still local services working to ensure islanders stay connected.
One such service is LINC which provides mental health support in Jersey and the Listening Lounge, which provides free counselling.
Its Head, Lucy Nicolaou, is marking Mental Health Awareness Week with this column for Express...
“According to a recent study carried out in the UK, current general anxiety and depression scores are higher than normal, and more so in women than men and those aged over 65.
The association of depression and anxiety with isolation and the easing of lockdown into a ‘new normal’ has emphasised the need for newer ways of keeping people connected and supported during times of poor social contact.
The Mental Health Director for NHS England has stated that the health service in the UK is witnessing an increase in referrals for conditions such as depression and anxiety in both children and adults, and expressed concern that the resulting prolonged lockdown measures and resulting isolation could lead to an epidemic of untreated mental illness in the coming months.
The lockdown and adjustment to a 'new normal' way of life has affected many of the routines and mechanisms that can help people manage mental health effectively. People cannot visit their friends or family in the same way as before, attend work or school as usual, go to groups or exercise classes, or leave their home as freely as they wish to. Regular routines, a critical part of well-being, have been disrupted and replaced with an uncertain future.
As our local community adjusts to living through a pandemic it is natural for people to experience a range of emotions and some of these feelings may be difficult, such as sadness, shock, anxiety or anger. Whether you have experienced mental health difficulties before or not, it is important to recognise if you're not feeling ok and seek support if this is needed.
There have been changes to local mental health services and we know that many people are concerned that asking for help might detract from efforts to tackle covid-19. However, it is so vitally important to address the message that there are several mental health agencies in Jersey still very much available and able to support islanders with mental health concerns they may have during this time and we encourage people to get in touch.
The Listening Lounge, Jersey Recovery College (JRC) and Mind Jersey, among others, are all operating their same support services but over the phone, online or using Zoom, and encourage people who may be concerned for their mental health to seek support as early as possible. As organisations, we all work closely with Health and Community Mental Health Services (HCS) to improve mental health support for Islanders. People can self-refer directly to any of these agencies without the need to go via their GP.
Pictured: The Listening Lounge.
The Listening Lounge are providing a phone service, counselling and peer support. Mind Jersey are also offering a free listening service over the phone and JRC is offering free courses to better understand mental and emotional health, and coping strategies to best manage these. Other local organisations offering mental health support include Liberate, the YES project, Silkworth, and Jersey Samaritans. The Mental Health Community team are also available to help.
Everyone has mental health and anyone can experience poor mental health, particularly during challenging and unfamiliar times such as a global pandemic. The earlier people seek support the more likely it is that you’ll feel better sooner. Having someone listen in a non-judgemental way, accessing peer support or attending courses to learn new ways to cope can really help.
The important message we wish to get out during Mental Health Awareness week in particular, is please reach out to us. You are not alone.”
Listening Lounge - call 01534 866793 or visit its website for support.
Mind Jersey - call800 7359404 (free) or click here for support.0
Jersey Recovery College - free courses available, click here to find out more.