The impact 2020 has had on the way we view our mental health
Across the world, mental health is often seen as a taboo subject – or, as we should say now, was seen as a taboo subject. 2020 changed many people’s view of mental health. The Coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone across the globe in some way.
People who feel they had never suffered with poor mental health before, may have now been touched by it. Whether it was due to feeling lonely because of quarantine and isolation or depression due to being made redundant or furloughed.
Mental health has always brought with it a stigma. But now, as more and more people open up about how their mental wellbeing has been affected by the events which have taken place in 2020, the stigma is being broken and discussing your mental health is no longer discouraged.
Addressing the issue
The government has addressed the mental health issues the Coronavirus pandemic has brought with it, publishing ‘guidance for the public on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus’. It’s an open guide pointing people in many directions depending on what they’re struggling with. Whether it’s financial worries, substance abuse or fearing the virus, the guide shows the different battles people have faced and are facing throughout 2020.
When it comes to discussing mental health, sometimes the word ‘ashamed’ is spoken of. But there is no reason to be ashamed of your mental health. It’s a vicious circle whereby not talking about it can make it worse, but you don’t want to speak about it because of embarrassment – therefore prolonging the suffering.
However, 2020 changed this. More and more people realised they weren’t the only ones feeling alone or feeling isolated from their families and friends, leading 69% of people to say they were very or somewhat worried about the effect that Coronavirus was having on their life and more than 4 in 10 adults (44%) saying their well-being was affected by the virus.
Taking care of it
You should take care of your mental health just as you would take cake of your teeth. There is a clear link between a healthy life and a healthy mind, and 2020 could have helped people make healthier choices which have positively impacted their mental health.
During the first six weeks of lockdown, research showed that an average of 63% said they got active to manage their mental health. 2020 also saw the launch of Public Health England’s latest campaign Better Health – Every Mind Matters campaign.
It was launched to help provide children and young people with NHS-endorsed tips on helping with their mental wellbeing during the pandemic and provide their parents and carers with the tools to help support them.
Acknowledging your mental health
The events of 2020 have helped some people acknowledge their mental health for the first time. While some have been open with their struggles, others don’t see some of the poor mental health signs as what they are – or they do and they simply ignore them.
● Lack of concentration
● Getting easily distracted
● Talking frequently at increased speeds
● Jumping from topic to topic and between ideas
● Worrying more often
● Difficulty in making decisions
● Decreased interest in day-to-day activities
● Low mood
● Drinking more alcohol
● Feeling overwhelmed
● Feeling tearful
● Feeling tired and having low energy
● Experiencing difficulty with controlling emotions
● Feeling irritable and short-tempered
2020 has made it somewhat more difficult to identify mental health symptoms, as some could be disguised as a temporary routine change. For example, changes to sleep were a common side effect of lockdown, with many people suffering from vivid dreams, this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re suffering with depression.
But lockdown could have brought these symptoms to the forefront and highlighted them as real issues – such as an increase in drinking alcohol being noticed more as you’re the one left to clear up the empty cans in the morning.
Not all mental health conditions were started due to the events of 2020 – they were just made worse. Bars and restaurants closing saw an increase in drinking at home, a place where no last orders are called and there are no curfews to adhere to.
But if anything good has come from the events of a pandemic, it’s highlighted the importance of listening to your mental health and doing what you can to support it.
There is a range of support services available, Mind – one of the UK’s leading mental health charities – has established some clear support for those who are experiencing poor mental health during this time.
It’s important to remember that you are not alone and help is on hand, be vocal about how you’re feeling because chances are other people are feeling the same way too.