UK Government Issues Advice on Mental Health for This Winter
The British government has issued a new policy paper entitled “Staying mentally well this winter”. Aimed at people from all walks of life, it is designed to help us all get through a unique, difficult end to the year.
What Does It Cover?
The paper is from the Department of Health and Social Care. It starts off by explaining how 2020 has marked an “unprecedented change to our lives”, with the COVID-19 pandemic causing enormous disruption to the lives and careers of many people across the country.
They note that the pandemic and the restrictions arising from it have led to positive changes for some of us, with increased flexibility at work and a stronger sense of community among the areas mentioned.
Yet, it goes on to say that many Brits are suffering from issues such as anxiety, frustration and loneliness. The onset of the long winter nights and the current restrictions that are in place to protect us could lead to it being a tough end to the year for many people.
What Is Suggested?
It is confirmed in the paper that the NHS will get an extra £500 million in funding next year, to help lower waiting times for people who are trying to access mental health services. However, they also point out that more support is needed for this winter.
One suggestion is for users to access the ‘Better Health: Every Mind Matters’ platform from Public Health England. This is an online resource that provides tips and tools for dealing with mental health subjects like stress and anxiety.
They also pointed out that the NHS and voluntary sector services in this area will remain open even in areas where the most stringent restrictions are in place this winter.
They also mention previous ideas such as the Loneliness Minister’s letter writing initiative, which encouraged people to reach out to anyone who may be feeling alone and vulnerable this year. With schools and universities remaining open, it is hoped that this lowers the amount of stress felt by children, young people and their families too.
What About Workers?
It is clear that workers are currently divided into several groups in the UK. There are those who can carry on almost as normal, as is the case with the construction industry. These workers need to continue with their usual safety measures such as using a step unit and suitable clothing while adapting to the new rules around social distancing and hygiene.
Then there are those workers who can work from home. Finally, those potentially most affected by mental health issues are the workers who are forced to stay at home but can’t work, losing money and running the risk of feeling lonely and isolated. The government paper suggests that a minimum of 30 minutes’ exposure to natural light each day can help their mental health.
They recommend going to a public space and staying active during the current health crisis, as well as looking after one another and looking online for the best resources to deal with any mental health issue that arise.