People struggling with their mental health during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak will be offered additional online support and practical guidance to help them cope, Mental Health minister Nadine Dorries has announced.
In recognition of the unprecedented challenges which the outbreak and extended periods of self-isolation can pose, Public Health England has published new online guidance setting out principles to follow to help people to manage their mental health during this difficult time.
Parents and carers will also benefit from tailored advice on how to support children and young people with stress during the coronavirus outbreak, which includes providing clear information, being aware of their own reactions and creating a new routine.
A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the guidance has been developed in partnership with leading mental health charities and clinically assured by the NHS.
It also includes steps that those living with serious mental health problems can take, including seeking support from their mental health teams.
Minister for Mental Health Nadine Dorries said:
‘When I discovered I had coronavirus I felt anxious and scared.
‘For those who already suffer with anxiety or other mental health issues this may present new and difficult challenges.
‘It’s imperative that we stay home if we are to beat coronavirus and save lives. I know how important it is that people have support to look after their mental health and this guidance will be of huge value.’
A spokesman for DHSC said the government has also announced a £5m grant for leading mental health charities, administered by Mind, to fund additional services for people struggling with their mental wellbeing during this time.
This could include telephone and online support services for the most isolated and vulnerable in our communities.
Mind, will use their existing links with other charities, including grassroots, user-led organisations, to reach vulnerable groups who are at particular risk during this period.
This is expected to include older adults, people with an underlying health condition and anyone experiencing unstable employment and housing conditions.
Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind and co-ordinating a group of mental health charities, said: ‘We are facing one of the toughest ever times for our mental wellbeing as a nation.
‘It is absolutely vital that people pull together and do all they can to look after themselves and their loved ones, when we are all facing a huge amount of change and uncertainty.
‘Reaching out to friends and family is critical, as well as paying attention to the impact our physical health can have on our mental health – from diet and exercise to getting enough natural light and a little fresh air.
‘Charities like Mind have a role to play in helping people cope not only with the initial emergency but coming to terms with how this will affect us well into the future.
‘Whether we have an existing mental health problem or not, we are all going to need extra help to deal with the consequences of this unprecedented set of circumstances.’
Public Health England has updated its Every Mind Matters platform with specific advice on maintaining good mental wellbeing during the outbreak. People can also complete a ‘Mind Plan’, a quick and free tool that has already been completed over 1.8m times.
A DHSC spokesman said the government and NHS England recognise that the mental health impacts of the coronavirus outbreak are significant and are working closely with mental health trusts to ensure those who need them have access to NHS mental health services.
This includes issuing guidance to trusts on staff training, prioritisation of services and how to maximise use of digital and virtual channels to keep delivering support to patients. NHS Mental Health providers are also establishing 24/7 helplines.
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