This is a testing time for everyone in the UK. We all have different struggles but primarily many of us are feeling helpless, isolated and scared. I am the same, it is only human and it would be crazy to pretend otherwise.

What I can say is that Ben has been out of school and learning at home for almost 10 months now due to completely unrelated issues. Mental health support is so important for all of us, young and old.

Woman crying and holding her palm facing the camera not wanting to talk due to depression
Depression not wanting to talk to anyone

As a result of this some of the feelings you may be having I have already had. The uncertainty of when “normal” education will start again?

Struggling with becoming a teacher overnight and your job suffering and the general anxiety over everything that has suddenly been forced upon you. This does, however, mean I can give you my insights honestly.

Mental health support for yourself

This is an extremely difficult time. Everyone has different struggles whether it be a missing family who they don’t live with and can’t see now for a while or missing friends.

This is normal and you need to recognise this. It is ok to be struggling with everything and ok to feel down.

Do not punish yourself for feeling low and treat yourself where possible, but not just to chocolate! Don’t be surprised if stress affects your sleep too.

Unopened bar of dairy milk chocolate
An unopened Dairy Milk chocolate bar

5 things you can do to help yourself

Know your limits – Don’t try to do too much. If you are working from home then do what you can but make sure you have boundaries and turn off the computer at the end of the day.

Spend five minutes every hour on you – if this is possible. I don’t mean that you should have a full-blown pamper session every hour. Just five minutes of looking at the clouds or watching birds flying past the window can make a huge difference to your well-being.

Get dressed – Every day even though you are not necessarily seeing anyone it makes a big difference to your well-being to get dressed. If you feel better without a bra on then go for it but put daytime clothes on and brush your hair etc.

Have a to-do list every day – I am not saying that you need to be planning every minute of every day, far from it, but you need some things you can achieve. If one day you only have on your to-do list to phone a friend and hoover the house that is just fine.

Accept help – if you are confined to the house you may feel like no one can help you. This is wrong, they can! If someone can call you for a chat once a week then this is great. Just a few friends like this and you will have someone supporting you daily. Arrange with each other when to chat, and stick to it!

Unhappy boy
children need mental health support too

Mental health support for your children

Ben found being in school one day and not the next really difficult. He missed his friends, felt lonely and like no one cared. This is similar to the way children will be feeling with all of the current difficulties in the world. Here are my tips about how you can help them. Children vary differently in how they cope with things. This post on Emotional intelligence in children may help you.

5 things to do to help your children

Listen to their worries – It can be hard for children to open up but sometimes drawing their feelings may help. However silly their worries seem to you remember to them they are important. It may surprise you the silly little things they worry about that you can reassure them about.

Keep them in contact with friends – suddenly feeling isolated is horrible and when you saw your friends daily and don’t really understand why you can’t now it is scary too. If you can join local Facebook groups to track down their school friends’ parents then this could be invaluable to both kids.

Have daily fun family time – Spend time every day doing something fun as a family whether that is watching a movie, playing a game or doing karaoke together. Our favourite games are Bananagrams, Relative Insanity and Rummikub. All are available on Amazon if you don’t have any of them but of course, in the current climate, we don’t know how long they will continue to deliver non-essentials!

Don’t expect them to do too much – I know they spend 6.5 hours or thereabouts at school every day but they will not really do that much work at home. That is ok, these circumstances are unique and the most important thing is they come through this with good mental health.

Give them outlets – All children (and adults!) need someone or something to vent to but also to release energy. Not only that but someone or somewhere they feel comfortable to cry. Remember that whilst you are all in the same house this will be difficult but nonetheless is important.

Close-up of young woman wearing facial mask
Close-up of young woman wearing facial mask

Mental health support for family and friends

If you are anything like me you want to be able to help everyone. Of course, this is just not possible. If you are isolated at home and shouldn’t be going to visit people that does not mean you can not support them. Here are a few ways you could easily support people you love, things I have appreciated over the months since Ben has been out of school and I have felt my life turned upside down.

4 ways to support family and friends

Phone or text – keeping in touch is so important. We are all in this together but everyone has different strains on their wellbeing. Being there makes a huge difference.

Give things that may help them – Whilst we are in a lockdown at the moment going to get shopping if necessary is allowed so if you have something they need and they are local could you leave it outside for them to collect? Maybe you happen to have a lot of pasta they could benefit from etc? I have today offered a spare mobile phone on a local group just in case someone has elderly family they cant visit but who would be able to video call.

Help with their children – Whilst you may not be able to have their children do you have any friends with children who are struggling? Having a daily chat and catch up with them could help so much. My mum does this for Ben and it is a great way of someone else listening to his waffle or giving him attention to give us a breather. Those ten minutes or so of your time could keep a parent sane!

Share online resources – if you find something that would help them then send it. If you have enjoyed a film or podcast let them know. That little bit of thought can mean the world when they are feeling low.

More Help

If you are in the UK and need to talk to someone because you feel you can not cope anymore remember the Samaritans are there every day for Mental health support on 116123.

If you are trying to lose weight through the crisis then finding the best support for your weight issues is key.

Mental health support in a crisis - my top tips

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