COVID & WELLBEING
It’s been a really tough year for all of us, with so many unknowns and challenges. Paying attention to our mental and physical health has never been more important. Like so many I have had problems dealing with my own mental health and I know how overwhelming that can be. But recognising there is a problem and reaching out can help. We’ve teamed up with leading NHS consultant psychiatrist Dr Sean Cross to offer this guide which we hope will point you in the direction of organisations that could help.
Fiona Stewart, Chair Green Man Trust, Managing Director Green Man Festival
Dr Sean Cross is a psychiatrist at King’s College Hospital. He is the Clinical Director for the Mind and Body programme in King’s Health Partners, which is pioneering integration across mental and physical healthcare. He is also Managing Director of Maudsley Learning and the Director of the national award-winning BMJ Education Team of the Year 2018, Maudsley Simulation. He also lectures at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, at King’s College London.
Intro to mental health
All of us have mental health. The way in which our mental health can be enhanced or worsened is something many of us learn as we move through life. Undoubtedly, some of us are unlucky and have genetic predispositions to mental illness or dreadful early life experiences which make worse mental health more common. However, there are some very clear ways that large numbers of scientific studies show can enhance our own positive mental health and wellbeing:
Wheel of wellbeing
Body, mind, spirit, people and place equate to the 5 ways to well-being of:
- ‘be active’
- ‘keep learning’
- ‘take notice’.
- The wheel adds a sixth element of ‘care’: planet.
The Wheel of Wellbeing is described in more detail here.
It is awful to realise that so many of these components of wellbeing have been hit hard by the pandemic, either as a direct result of Covid-19 or by the consequences of lockdowns. For everyone working in the music industry and the arts, there is the further dreadful step of seeing our sector being unable to function. It is no wonder so many people are struggling.
Struggling with your mental health
One way to think about your mental health is on a spectrum: at the most positive end is ‘thriving’. If you are there, we bet you will be doing some or many of the listed above in the wheel. This is brilliant and we would encourage you to remain curious and reflect on the things you are doing. Moving down the spectrum you may start to struggle with your mental health and at the other end of the spectrum, you may develop mental illness.
If you feel you are struggling, you may start to notice a range of different things:
- Your sleep may become impacted where you struggle to sleep at night or find yourself waking up very early in the morning.
- You may start to worry about many different issues and become preoccupied with them to the exclusion of other stuff in your life.
- You may start to feel overwhelmed or anxious.
- You may feel like disengaging from different components of your life including important people such as your family or friends.
- At their worst, you may even start to feel that life is not worth living.
When these symptoms become prolonged and longer-lasting sometimes people can be diagnosed with mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety disorders. Almost 1 in 4 of us will be diagnosed with one of these disorders in life. There are also a range of other disorders such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia which affect many fewer of us but can be overwhelming to deal with. The most important thing to remember is that something can be done to help.
Steps you can take as an individual
You might want to start by learning more about the science behind wellbeing at the links above.
You might want to TRY A FREE OPEN ACCESS COURSE provided by one of our co-authors of this page which walks through the impact of Covid-19 on our mental health and uses lots of videos and peer learning. Over 20,000 people have used it so far with a 4.7/5 rating! We think it’ll help trigger some thoughts or actions on how you can look after yourself and your communities better.
Your GP will manage mental health issues a lot. One study showed that up to one-third of GP time was spent helping people with mental health issues, which we point out so you don’t feel discouraged to approach them if you need. They are very used to speaking with people about how to access better help locally and can help you access psychological therapies and even medication if they feel it is appropriate.
Talking therapies are used a lot to help when you are struggling with your mental health. The commonest kind of therapy is CBT or Cognitive Behaviour Therapy but many others are also used. You can read about CBT here.
Across the country, you can get access to CBT on the NHS, although there may be waits. In England, a service called IAPT or improving access to psychological therapies means that in most boroughs or counties you will be able to self-refer for the service – google your own local area. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have different systems but still with access to services sometimes via your GP. Some areas also have large numbers of private practitioners.
And every A&E in the country will have access to mental health specialists. It’s obviously good not to use this if you can access help in other ways but it’s important to know it’s there and you are not alone.
If you are reaching a point of crisis, REMEMBER that there is help available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.
Here is a list of useful resources – simply follow the links:
|Offer free emotional support and information/literature on Mental Health and related matters to the people of Wales.|
|If you’re under 19 and need a free, private and confidential place where you can talk about anything, you can either call 800 1111 or visit their website to book a 1-2-1 online chat.|
|Give people the knowledge and confidence they need to find their way forward – whoever they are, and whatever their problem. They offer free advice on employment, benefits, managing debt, housing, consumer rights, family, law & courts, immigration, health and so much more.|
|Offer free support for all aspects of family life, including all stages of a child’s development, issues with schools and parenting/relationship support; around family breakdown, aggression in the home, bullying, teenage risky behaviour and mental health concerns of both parents and their children. You can access their helpline in Welsh language too.|
|The Welsh Government has launched a helpline to provide help and advice about violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence. If you, a family member, a friend or someone you are concerned about is experiencing or has experienced domestic abuse or sexual violence, you can contact the helpline for free 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.|
|Has an excellent website with a range of resources about mental health problems and how to manage them.|
|Offer free daily guided meditation sessions.|
|Offer free wellbeing resources including free yoga classes that you can do from home to keep your body active and your mind relaxed.|
|Take a quiz to get a free plan with tips to help you deal with stress and anxiety, improve your sleep, boost your mood and feel more in control.|
|With over 25 years of experience working within schools, supporting the wellbeing of children, young people, families and school staff across the UK, Place2b offer child mental health and counselling services. They have put together some wellbeing activity ideas for families during Coronavirus.|
|Offer information and support for LGBT communities and their allies. They also offer a directory of LGBT support services specific to your area.|
|Offer ongoing, face-to-face listening appointments that make a real difference to the lives of many people who are feeling suicidal.|
|Whatever you’re going through, a Samaritan will face it with you. They are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.|
|If you are living with or know someone who is living with HIV who needs support, the Terrence Higgins Trust offers a number of free services across the country. You can also contact them online, by post or phone.|
|Wales’ first national campaign to end the stigma and discrimination faced by people with mental health problems. They offer a number of free resources for individuals, organisations and young people.|
SUPPORT FOR ARTISTS
|Help artists build networks, find work and funding opportunities, earn money or get exhibitions, understand their legal rights, find affordable accommodation or do their tax.|
|Free peer group community offering a supportive environment for artists to share active works, ideas or challenges. They run monthly events for artists to access peer-to-peer support in advancing projects, finding solutions to challenges and reducing isolation.|
|Offer a number of different welfare grants to professional performers and those working in the performing arts profession.|
|Offer a number of funding programmes for musicians experiencing hardship.|
|If you work in music and are struggling to cope or know someone who is, you can talk to Music Minds Matter. It doesn’t have to be a crisis, or about music. Their Counsellors are there to listen, support and help at any time. 0808 802 8008.|