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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 King’s College Hospital 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

Intro to mental health

Everyone’s mental health is different. The way in which our mental health can be improved or worsened is something many of us learn as we move through life. Some of us may have genetic predispositions or traumatic early life experiences that could increase the risk of mental illness. However, large numbers of scientific studies show that there are ways in which we 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’
  • ‘give’
  • ‘connect’
  • ‘take notice’.
  • The wheel adds a sixth element of ‘care’: planet.

The Wheel of Wellbeing is described in more detail here

Unfortunately, so many of these components of wellbeing have been hit hard by the pandemic, either as a direct result of Covid-19 or due to the consequences of lockdowns. For everyone working in the music industry and the arts, there is the further dreadful addition of seeing our sector being unable to function. It is no wonder that so many people are struggling. 

Struggling with your mental health

One way to think about your mental health is on a spectrum. On the positive end, you could feel as though you are “thriving”. If this is the case, you are probably taking care of the elements in the Wheel of Wellbeing above. This is brilliant and we would encourage you to remain curious and reflect on the things you are doing and the positive impact they are having. Moving down the spectrum you may start to struggle with your mental health, or, even at the other other end of the spectrum, you may develop a 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 worst, you may even start to feel that life is not worth living.

Sometimes when these symptoms become prolonged, 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 our lifetimes. 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.

Other resources

Your GP will help many people with mental health issues. A study showed that up to one-third of GP time was spent helping people with mental health issues, so don’t feel discouraged to approach them if you need. They speak 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 most common 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.

Lastly, 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:

GENERAL WELLBEING

C.A.L.L.
Offer free emotional support and information/literature on Mental Health and related matters to the people of Wales.
Childline
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.
Citizens Advice
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.
Family Lives
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.
Live Fear Free
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.
Mind Cymru
Has an excellent website with a range of resources about mental health problems and how to manage them.
Mindfulness Association
Offer free daily guided meditation sessions.
National Youth Arts Wales
Offer free wellbeing resources including free yoga classes that you can do from home to keep your body active and your mind relaxed.
NHS UK – Coronavirus & Wellbeing
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.
Place2b
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.
Stonewall
Offer information and support for LGBT communities and their allies. They also offer a directory of LGBT support services specific to your area.
The Listening Place
Offer ongoing, face-to-face listening appointments that make a real difference to the lives of many people who are feeling suicidal.
The Samaritans
Whatever you’re going through, a Samaritan will face it with you. They are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
THT
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.
Time to Change Wales
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.
MyTutor  For Parents
Has useful tips and advice for parents to help their teens overcome body image issues, academic anxiety, peer pressure and cyberbullying, including links to other important teen mental health resources

SUPPORT FOR ARTISTS

Artquest
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.
Arts & Health Hub
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.
Equity Charitable Trust
Offer a number of different welfare grants to professional performers and those working in the performing arts profession.
Help Musicians UK
Offer a number of funding programmes for musicians experiencing hardship.
Music Minds Matter Helpline
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.
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