Mental Health Is A ‘Hidden Pandemic’ says a group of Cumbrian advocates



Ahead of ‘Blue Monday’ on 18th January a group of Cumbrian mental health advocates are worried about the coming mental health crisis which is feared to follow the Coronavirus pandemic.


A model developed by the CentreForMentalHealth last Autumn found that around 8.5 million adults and 1.5 million children in England alone will need support for anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorders and other mental health difficulties in the coming months and years.


Nic Hewitt, an open mental health advocate from Workington who struggles with her mental health and was diagnosed with Bipolar Type II in her teens and Borderline Personality Disorder in her twenties said being ‘lock downed’ has been very difficult: “Working within the health and wellbeing sector we have seen a huge increase in new customers reaching out for products to support their mental health and well-being.


“I talk openly about my struggles with mental health and I think because of that my friends, family and customers feel that they can reach out for help and advice, most of the time I can point them in the direction of their own GP or local services. With the waves of the pandemic taking, its toll on people, waiting lists for local services are getting longer as more and more people look for support.


“With current news of the NHS becoming overwhelmed, my biggest fear is that help won’t be available to those who are in a desperate place. I personally needed further support in-between Christmas & New Year and no support was available. I truly believe that with the continuation of the pandemic we as a county are going to need more and more services to support people. Within my capacity of director of a health and wellbeing company we are looking at how we can play our part and offer safe spaces within our new premises, we're looking at workshops and support evenings too.”


Wellbeing coach and licensed hypnotherapist Samantha Symons has seen an increased demand for mental health support, she said: “I've seen an increase in clients coming to me during lockdowns for support with their mental health. People from across all groups are affected, young and old. Sadly, there's a clear increase in people struggling with feelings of isolation and wanting help with how to manage that.


“It is really important to promote strategies and support for people, being tuned into technology can be useful if it is time-managed but it can also be harmful to mental health if constant negativity is coming in.”


Oliver Hodgson, a Gen Z mental health advocate said: “Juggling business, work, family life and for some school aswell as looking after your mental health is hard, being at home 24/7 to some is fantastic but to others it’s detrimental to their mental wellbeing. I struggle greatly with the lack of routine and interaction with others aswell as the constant doom and gloom with the reality of what we are all facing, is mental health the hidden pandemic?”


Nic, Samantha and Oliver all recognise that the country must ‘unite’ to beat Coronavirus and they say that protecting our families and the vulnerable is equally as important as supporting people’s mental health.


Samantha added her top tips and advice: “I always stress to people to find ways to connect with others face to face through walking, video calls or phone calls, use support bubbles, write letters to friends, share photos, to name a few. It's important to interact without talking about the elephant in the room (Covid) all the time! Planning your day, the previous night so you feel more control in your life really helps, even though it might be small things like what meals to cook, taking fresh air and engaging in mindful hobbies. Comparing yourself to other people is not useful either as most people don't openly display their struggles.”


Should anyone be feeling low or in need of someone to speak to you can contact any of the following charities for support:

Carlisle & Eden Mind: 0300 561 0000

Samaritans: 116 123 or jo@samaritans.org

Papyrus UK: 0800 068 41 41 or pat@papyrus-uk.org