The mental health challenges of a pandemic!

by Carolyn Barber

If you said that you planned to run a marathon, you might expect to put in place regular fitness training and running practice. You would try to eat more healthily, stop smoking and drinking alcohol, all to prepare yourself physically for the experience. You might not do it all but you would know that this is what you’re supposed to do. When it comes to a challenge to our mental health on the other hand, we often don’t know how to prepare for a big challenge – even one we can see approaching.

How can we build our mental resilience as we would our physical strength?

What are the risks to mental health?

In China, research has shown that a severe epidemic, such as Covid-19, has a profound impact on many people’s mental health, causing anxiety and depression, and exacerbating already existing mental distress. The World Health Organisation has produced comprehensive mental health strategies to help governments, local authorities and individuals address our mental health given the loss of ‘life as we know it’.

This Change Curve, based on the work of Elizabeth Kubler Ross around dying, grief and loss, demonstrates how normal it is to go through different stages of emotional and mental distress when faced with change, let alone the extraordinary events which have unfolded in the past couple of weeks. 

How can we take care of our mental health?

Last weekend I had to remind myself again about this question!!
Fear, anxiety, anger and depression are all very normal responses to what’s happening around us. You may be experiencing disorientation, lack of motivation, inability to concentrate, disrupted sleep, uncontrollable tears, even panic attacks. 
Click here for advice on coping with some common signs of emotional distress.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing a range of strategies and resources to help you build mental and emotional resilience. Just like our physical health, taking care of our mental health is about establishing good habits as part of our regular routine. 

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