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Isolation, anxiety and coronavirus: Plea to protect mental health during pandemic

Mental health charities have issued advice for coping with isolation. Credit: PA

Millions of people are being urged to take steps to protect their well-being amid fears the Covid-19 pandemic may also trigger a mental health crisis.

With the country on lockdown, and people of all ages isolating for different reasons, there are concerns that those with illnesses like depression and anxiety could start to struggle without support.

  • Click below for a full report from Rob Setchell, filmed during his first week of isolation.

Alyssa Girvan, from Norwich, is currently isolating and working from home.

Two years ago she tried to take her own life after long periods suffering from depression and anxiety.

She says her recovery is progressing well and that she has devised a plan with her therapist to meet the mental challenge of spending weeks at home.

Alyssa Girvan, from Norwich, has devised a plan with her therapist for dealing with isolation. Credit: Alyssa Girvan

"I check in with my therapist weekly but there's a lot of people who aren't like that and this disruption - particularly if you are early in your mental health treatment - it's quite a lot to deal with.

"You are very on your own. It's incredibly hard when you're in a deep depression but it's even harder when all of society is knocked on its head."

– Alyssa Girvan

Mental health charity Mind has issued advice to those isolating to protect against the spread of the coronavirus.

Tips include getting fresh air in your garden, trying to stay active, doing something creative, video-calling friends and family and not spending too much time on social media or looking at screens.

Dr Emma Tiffin, a GP based in Cambridge, said online resources were vital but stressed that those with serious mental health problems must still seek help from the health services.

"Being socially isolated is thought to be equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It has an impact on physical and mental health."

– Dr Emma Tiffin
  • For more advice visit the Mind website.
  • Health services in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough also provide information and resources in a service called Keep Your Head.

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