If your lockdown has been an emotional rollercoaster, you’re not alone

After two long months of being under lockdown, restrictions are slowly being lifted. You can now picnic outdoors (with those you live with), meet a friend in a park, and as of next month, go into a car showroom. Soon, no doubt, we’ll be able to hang out in larger groups - albeit outdoors still.

But while many of us will breathe a huge sigh of relief at finally being able to interact with someone other than our families and flatmates (or anyone at all, if you live alone!), lockdown has had a pretty huge knock on to the nation’s mental health.

It’s only natural; for the past 12 weeks, we’ve heard terrifying accounts of a killer, invisible disease. 

According to a nationwide YouGov survey commissioned during Mental Health Awareness Week, 40% of the UK population are concerned that their mental health has started to decline since lockdown. 

One in four adults say that loneliness has had a negative impact on their mental health, with nearly 30% admitting to drinking more alcohol throughout lockdown and 18% believing that they’ll emerge from lockdown to continue drinking more.

The lack of daily structure, fear of catching the disease, feelings of lack of control were also huge factors in the decline in good mental health. 

Ruari Fairbairns, founder and CEO of One Year No Beer - who commissioned the YouGov survey - called the findings ‘really upsetting’.

‘More worrying is this might only be the tip of the iceberg, with a sizeable proportion of the population experiencing a disturbance in mental health but unable to properly recognise it.
‘Mental Health Awareness week is much more than just a week, it should be a continual part of our lives. We can’t stress how important it is for people to keep this in check and find productive and effective coping mechanisms because prolonged periods of a certain destructive behaviour will almost definitely begin to form new habits.’
But humans are adaptable and the study found that many of us have found new ways of tackling stress and anxiety.

Video calls, phone calls and family time were identified as the key coping mechanism during lockdown with 46% of respondents using this to help them stave off poor mental health.

Prior to lockdown, when was the last time you rang a friend for a chat or video called a family member who lives far away? For those of us who are addicted to WhatApp and society media, this crisis has reintroduced us to the art of talking, of slow communication. We’ve remembered or realised for the first time just how important proper human interaction is to our well-being; texts aren’t enough.

So what should you do if your mental health has been affected by lockdown?

Talk to someone

There really is no substitute for opening up about how you feel. Yes, it may be uncomfortable but if you’re struggling, it’s probably the single-most important and life changing decision that you’ll make. If you can’t face opening up to a friend or family member, there are plenty of free, anonymous helplines that can help including:

CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) - for men aged 15-35: 0800 58 58 58 

YoungMinds - advice for parents: 0808 802 5544

SANE - for anyone affected by poor mental health, their families and carers : 0300 304 7000

Samaritans: 116 123

Rethink Mental Illness:  0300 5000 927

Papyrus - young suicide prevention society: 0800 068 4141

Mind: 0300 123 3393

Stay in contact

We’re not out of the woods yet so don’t let the promise of more relaxed rules stop you from maintaining your video call/Zoom/Houseparty chats. It’s really important that you maintain contact with your networks - whether that’s logging onto your weekly online quiz, having a quick phone call or watching a film together (digitally). 

Remember this won’t last forever

Easier said than done but remembering that this is only temporary can help. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, remind yourself of what you were doing four months ago - before lockdown - and what you’ll be doing in the near future - after lockdown ends.

Chat to your GP

Your GP can refer you to a therapist, prescribe you with medication or help come up with precise coping strategies. Doctors are desperate for patients to come to see them if they have any issues, so don’t put it off for fear of ‘clogging up’ the NHS or catching the virus. Surgeries will be equipped to keep you and the medical staff safe.

Practice self-care

Make the most of the time we have left by doing the things that make you feel good. That might be having a long hot soak every night or baking something delicious. It could involve going for long walks without your phone or lying on the sofa watching iPlayer. Whatever it is, enjoy it while you have no other commitments on the horizon.

Information contained in this Articles page has been written by talkhealth based on available medical evidence. The content however should never be considered a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek medical advice before changing your treatment routine. talkhealth does not endorse any specific products, brands or treatments.

Information written by the talkhealth team

Last revised: 28 May 2020
Next review: 28 May 2023