Self-isolation: Protecting your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak

The coronavirus pandemic has brought uncertainty, frustration and worry to the Midlands.

The news and chatter about Covid-19 feels relentless and it's having an impact on people's mental health.

Rosie Weatherley from the mental health charity MIND says that it's normal for people to be worried and that the uncertainty is likely to impact everyone in some way.

Being concerned about the health crisis is understandable, but for those with existing conditions such as anxiety and OCD it could become unbearable.

Rosie says that research has shown that more mental health issues will be raised by the next stages of self-isolation and quarantine.

A feeling of frustration, boredom, fear or a lack of control indicates that mental health issues may become likely.

Last week the World Health Organisation issued a number of considerations for the public to think about during the coronavirus outbreak.

The WHO issued a number of guidelines last week for people to follow if they need to self-isolate. Credit: PA

Have empathy towards people from different nationalities

The virus is likely to affect people from many countries, the WHO say to avoid attaching the disease to any particular ethnicity or nationality.

It's important to have empathy to those who are infected and remember that they haven't done anything wrong.

Be careful when talking about coronavirus

The WHO say we need to try and avoid calling people who have contracted the virus "victims", "diseased", "Covid-19 cases" or "Covid-19 families".

To reduce the stigma surrounding those who contract Covid-19 we need to remember that these people and their families have identities separate from the virus.

The public are advised to use the terms "people who have Covid-19", "people being treated for Covid-19" and "people who are recovering from Covid-19".

Rosie also adds that we should be careful when we're talking about how "coronavirus only effects older people or people with underlying health problems", as this can cause additional concern for these groups of people.

Limit your news intake and be careful what you read

Rosie says that we can support our mental health by reducing what we read, watch and listen to in the news about coronavirus. She says that we should avoid taking in too much that can make us feel uneasy, anxious or distressed about the situation.

Instead she suggests that we stay in touch with only a couple of news channels and social media pages, and only once or twice a day.

The WHO advise people to avoid the constant stream of news on social media and remember to consciously distinguish between facts and rumours.

Try to keep a routine and a sense of purpose

When we're out and about going to work we will experience "lifts" throughout the day. These can come from speaking to someone new, achieving something in work or eating new foods somewhere different.

MIND say that it's important to try and recreate these lifts whilst in self-isolation. This could mean doing a new exercise, learning a new language or video chatting to someone.

Experts also say it's important to try and continue to eat a healthy diet and keep routine in meal times.

Routine can also be maintained through our sleeping habits. Health professionals say that during self-isolation we should continue to wake up, get dressed and try to do something productive with the day.

Support your community and stay connected

The public are being told to stay safe and support those around them, especially people who need extra assistance.

People are being urged to check in on neighbours over the phone and call friends or relatives who may be struggling in isolation.

Rosie says keeping connected and speaking to loved ones through WhatsApp, Skype and phone calls can support our mental health during isolation.

Praise for health and care workers

The WHO say it's important to acknowledge the hard work that healthcare workers are faced with during the coronavirus outbreak.

It's important to encourage anyone who you know working in healthcare and recognise the role they're playing to keep your loved ones safe.

Try to stay positive

The WHO say that when possible we should try and share positive or helpful coronavirus stories. Do you know someone who has recovered? Is it bringing people in your community closer together?

It's normal to overthink things when we're alone and self-isolation could be the perfect breeding ground for negative thoughts. Try and avoid using your extra time picking apart every aspect of your job, relationships, friendships and life.

Rosie adds that self-isolation doesn't have to be a terrible time for all. She says it can be time to clear todo lists, catch up on reading and speak to people they haven't had contact with for a while.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know