Charities and organisations have been sharing advice and guidance on how to manage mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus lockdown.
With regular life, habits and routine changing drastically for many people during the outbreak, there are mounting concerns about the impact on people’s mental and emotional wellbeing.
Simon Jones, Head of Policy at Mind Cymru, told Caerphilly Observer: “We know that coronavirus and its impact are causing stress and worry for lots of people.
“While being told to stay indoors and avoid others can be a very daunting prospect, there are many things you can do to help maintain your mental health and wellbeing at this difficult time.”
These points are based around establishing a daily routine and structure, and include maintaining healthy and balanced meals, staying hydrated by drinking water and making use of breathing exercises and meditation if you’re feeling particularly anxious.
There is also a big emphasis on building exercise into your routine. People are currently permitted one piece of outdoor exercise a day, and some studies have suggested that the endorphins released by a walk or run can have a positive impact on mood and outlook.
Exercising at home has also been recommended, with home workout routines now widely available online. These range from live workouts that can be done with children, to guides for people of all ages and abilities.
Health organisations have also urged people to continue the treatment and support they were accessing prior to the coronavirus outbreak.
While face to face consultations with GPs have been widely limited to essential appointments, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board is encouraging people to continue to contact their local GP surgeries to check what services are still on offer if necessary.
There are also concerns that mental health may deteriorate if people encounter a change of circumstances regarding employment, benefit support or their finances.
Citizens Advice has reassured people that their helpline is still open daily from 9-5 and available on 0300 3302117.
Simon Ellington, Chief Executive for Citizens Advice Caerphilly Blaenau Gwent, said: “We can provide everything from initial to specialist advice on debt, employment, benefits, discrimination and many other subjects.
“Over the last three weeks, we have moved all our staff from their offices to working at home. We can reassure the public that they will get the same quality and confidential service that we have always offered.”
Support and guidance has also been experienced within the community, with councillors, residents and organisations keen to emphasise that people aren’t alone despite the lack of social interaction.
Many organisations that provide vital social hubs for their members have continued remotely online, while others have transformed themselves to provide services such as delivering groceries and prescriptions.
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Cllr Shelly Hodder, who represents the Morgan Jones ward on Caerphilly Town Council and is a mental health professional, has been supporting residents.
“This is a very unsettling period for us all with some people feeling anxious, lonely and overwhelmed by the impact coronavirus is having on our daily lives.
“After offering my support in a post on social media, the response I received was phenomenal. There is clearly a real need for emotional support right now, and people want to feel connected and supported, especially in light of the isolation and social distancing measures.”
Hefin David, Assembly Member for Caerphilly, said: “We’re currently in the midst of a crisis, the like of which we have never seen.
“This will be a hugely stressful time for all, but some will be more vulnerable than others. People will be facing loneliness and complete isolation in some cases, which will be hugely difficult to deal with emotionally.
“Please check in by phone with your friends and family, especially those living alone. Make use of video calling and social media to keep in touch.
“If you are able to drop off some supplies safely, then do so. You may wish to consider volunteering for the council’s ‘Team Caerphilly’ scheme to help others.
“If you are struggling during these times, there are people that can help. The Welsh Government has introduced financial packages for the voluntary sector, to ensure support is available for people during these challenging times.”
Samartians have also confirmed that their 24-hour helpline remains open on 116 123, while they also have an online resource that signposts people to other organisations providing support during this time.
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