Ellie DePasquale from Bury St Edmuds says on some days her little dog is the only thing that keeps her going. She’s shielding and hasn’t seen friends or family for more than eight weeks. The isolation makes her feel hopeless.
Since lock down began the number of people who’ve reported feeling lonely has more than doubled, according to the Institute of Public Health.
Experts are warning this crisis will have a profound and potentially long-lasting effect on people’s mental health.
Isolation, loneliness and anxieties over health, jobs, finances and childcare are all affecting our sense of wellbeing.
And on top of all that, people don’t have the support networks and routine in their lives that ground us all.
Combine that with not seeing friends and family and the fear is, as time goes on, the mental health crisis could escalate.
The charity SANE have had a 200% increase in callers using their helpline during lockdown - with almost a third of callers saying they are actively suicidal.
And charities like Suffolk Mind are having to adapt how they work to try and give increasing numbers of people the counselling and help they need during isolation.
Charities and medical experts say action needs to be taken now to tackle the crisis with more mental health staff and psychiatric beds and more welfare checks for those at risk.
This is a huge challenge in light of the current viral epidemic, but the warning is, if we don’t tackle these issues now, we’ll soon be facing a mental health epidemic too.