Whilst we all understand the need to lock down to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, we must also ensure that we're looking after our mental health as well as our physical health. That’s why now is a good time to mark Mental Health Awareness Week.
We all feel the stresses and strains of everyday life, and some of us have deeper underlying mental health issues to cope with. Connecting with people can make a big difference, and for me, in these difficult times, what makes the difference is spending quality time with my wife and children.
Being there for someone can sometimes be the most important step, and that’s why the Mental Health Foundation's theme this year couldn't be more appropriate: Kindness.
If there’s one silver lining to this pandemic it’s the depths of kindness we have rediscovered in ourselves and others, whether that’s helping neighbours, giving to charity or showing our appreciation to key workers.
With people throughout our community coming together to support each other, we’ve seen how social connections are strengthened in times of crisis and how these stronger connections can bolster our mental health.
Dealing with mental health problems, whether it’s affecting you or someone near you, can be daunting, but it helps to remember that simple acts of kindness can go a long way. That’s why I like the video at the top of this page so much.
Beyond that, though, it’s important to know when to reach out for professional help. We need to acknowledge that mental health can be as much of a challenge as physical health – and certainly just as important! Sometimes you need a trained health professional to get you on the path to recovery.
We are lucky to have amazing groups who want to help. That’s why I will be speaking with Kingston Mind about mental health in one of their upcoming podcasts, when I hope to learn more about their work to promote better mental health in our area. Find out more about their services and projects here, many of which they continue to offer by phone and video.
Other invaluable resources if you need them include:
- Kingston Samaritans continue to be available at any time on 116 123, and they are always happy to listen without judgement or pressure – simply give them a call.
- Time for Change Kingston has a list of resources for people struggling to cope with mental health issues.
It’s also important to remind ourselves that the current crisis won’t last forever, but we must accept that the mental health impacts of the virus could last for years, affecting many of us in ways that we don’t completely understand yet.
That’s why, as your MP, I – along with my Lib Dem colleagues – have been calling on the Government to form a comprehensive mental health strategy to protect and support people so that we don't face what the Royal College of Psychiatrists predicts could be a 'tsunami' of mental illness after the pandemic.
We are also calling on the Government to do what it can to encourage those suffering with mental health problems to seek help when they need it, just as they would if they were suffering from a physical illness.
So, whatever you’re doing and wherever you are, remember to spare a moment to Be Kind because you never know when a simple act of kindness could help someone. And let’s be prepared for the long-term effects on our mental health of coronavirus and the lockdown.