Coronavirus and Mental Health
Last updated: 14 September 2020
We understand that the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic may be causing feelings of worry and distress for staff and students of Bangor University. During this challenging time, it is important for us as individuals and as a community to maintain our mental and physical health. This page aims to provide you with information and guidance to support you with this. We hope to update this page with new information as it becomes available.
You may have questions about the university’s response to the outbreak, how this will affect your academics, or which buildings and services are still operational. We recommend checking the university’s staff and student COVID-19 FAQ pages for updates relevant to you.
For protecting yourself and others from coronavirus, please follow NHS advice and government guidance as the most current information in this ongoing situation. If you’re concerned about travel, whether returning to the UK from abroad or leaving the UK, you can consult the government’s travel advice.
As lockdown restrictions ease, many of us are preparing for the return to ‘normal’, which will likely continue to be uncertain and unfamiliar. Dr Dominique Thompson writes about how to mentally prepare for the transition out of isolation, suggesting ways to ease ourselves and each other through this difficult time.
Support your mental health and wellbeing
As the coronavirus is affecting numerous parts of our society, it also impacts each of us differently. Feelings of anxiety and uncertainty are normal during confusing, stressful times like this. That’s why it is important that we take time to look after ourselves and each other while the pandemic slows. The following websites provide information and advice to look after your mental health relating to the outbreak:
Student Space is making it easier for you to find support you need during the pandemic.
Every Mind Matters: This NHS page provides simple tips and advice to start taking better care of your mental health. If you are still struggling after several weeks and it is affecting your daily life, please contact NHS 111 online.
The Mental Health Foundation: Some general tips to help you, your friends and your family to look after your mental health at a time when there is much discussion of potential threats to our physical health. The MHF also has pages on how kindness can help everyone through the pandemic and tips for nurturing relationships during lockdown.
Mind: This page covers planning for staying at home or indoors, taking care of your mental health, and a checklist for getting ready to stay at home for multiple weeks.
The World Health Organisation: These mental health considerations were developed by the WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Use as messages targeting different groups to support for mental and psychosocial well-being during COVID-19 outbreak. These groups include the general population, healthcare workers, team leaders or managers in health facilities, care providers for children, older adults, care providers and people with underlying health conditions, and people in isolation.
In addition to these resources, we recommend looking through Bangor University’s online mental health resources for further support and guidance. To find someone to speak to, refer to our list of local and national helplines. For faith and spirituality-related support, get in touch with our Chaplaincy Team.
Please refer to the Counselling Service website for information on how to access the university’s online support services. The Independent published an article on accessing free and private therapy during lockdown , and explains why therapy may be an appropriate resource for many of us in managing the impacts of COVID-19. To find private counsellors and therapists who are trained to work ethically online, please consult the ACTO therapist directory.
To find counsellors and therapists who are trained to work ethically online, please consult the ACTO therapist directory.
Managing Challenging Emotions
Even if we take care of ourselves and each other to the best of our abilities, there may be times when strong, difficult emotions feel hard to manage. During these moments, the feelings can be overwhelming and leave a person feeling stuck. These resources provide information on why challenging feelings arise and how to manage them.
Understanding what emotions are and how they work can greatly help reduce the negative impacts they can have when we lose control over their intensity. This 50-minute video by Prof Michaela Swales from Bangor University’s Psychology Department gives an in-depth explanation of emotions as well as strategies for emotional management.
This leaflet from NHS Oxford Health focuses on the worry and uncertainty that all of us are experiencing as a result of the pandemic. Worrying is normal and can be helpful, but we often worry in excess and it disrupts our lives. This resource describes how to identify excessive worry and reduce the resulting anxiety.
We have all lost something as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, whether it’s a vacation, time with friends and families, or a student’s graduation ceremony, we are all experiencing loss to some extent. David Kessler, a renowned grief expert, explains the different kinds of grief that we are facing as individuals and as a community in articles and podcasts at grief.com.
This is also an incredibly difficult time for those of us facing a bereavement, whether a death resulted from covid-19 or any other cause. If you or anyone you know has been bereaved, refer to this article on coronavirus bereavement for information and advice for managing these devastating circumstances.
Pre-existing mental health difficulties
It is important to keep in mind that those of us managing mental health problems are at an increased risk of experiencing health complications and social inequality. It may seem more difficult to ask for help and receive the necessary support, and it’s therefore critical to be aware of how we are feeling and what we need.
For those with pre-existing mental health difficulties, the Mental Health Foundation advises that, where possible, you make a plan with the practitioners you’ve been working with prior to or during the pandemic.
Some organizations have created specific resources for managing pre-existing mental health difficulties during the outbreak:
- Anxiety UK: Health and other forms of anxiety and coronavirus
- Beat Eating Disorders: Eating disorders and coronavirus
- OCD-UK: OCD and Coronavirus Top Tips
The coronavirus also increases risk for those living with abusive relationships. The national order to stay at home may further isolate people experiencing or feeling at risk of abuse. Perpetrators of abuse in domestic relationships might also react to virus-related fears and anxieties with increased anger, hostility, or unpredictability. Please refer to the following resources for guidance on staying safe:
- GOV.uk: The government guidance on support for victims of domestic abuse during coronavirus.
- Mental Health Foundation: This MHF page provides practical advice as well as resources for information and support.
- Refuge: To talk to someone about abuse now, call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline 24/7 at 0808 2000 247.
Assisting other people in their time of need and reaching out to someone who may be feeling alone or concerned can benefit both the person receiving support as well as the helper. Here are some suggestions for things you can do to support your neighbours and loved ones:
- Be sure to share information from trustworthy sources (like NHS advice and government guidance).
- Keep in touch with your family and friends, even if just over the phone.
- Check-in with those who may be more vulnerable or at-risk to offer whatever help you feel able to provide.
- Supporting others can be challenging. Check out the Look After Your Mate guide from Student Minds UK for advice on helping yourself while helping others.
Finance and Employment Anxieties
It is undoubtably an uncertain time when it comes to employment and finances. The pandemic has affected all professions and organizations, whether it means that people are now working from home, furloughed, or seeking future employment in an unstable job market. All these changes will be impacting mental health, especially if they are compromising your ability to stay safe and healthy. Please consult the following resources if you’re worried about finances or managing your employment, as these are key contributors to maintaining your psychological wellbeing.
Mind provides resources for those transitioning to working online or from home, as well as support for managing the experiences of being furloughed or made redundant. Key workers and frontline staff will likely be working under stressful conditions and require more emotional support than ever; please refer to the information and contacts complied by Mind and Mental Health UK to aid in your mental health.
Managing your finances may be more important than ever these days. The Mental Heath Foundation has gathered resources for how to manage these concerns, with advice on budgeting, acquiring government support, and your rights to work. You can also consult the Money Support division of Student Services, which provides students with support and guidance on all aspects of student funding.
Racism and hate crimes from COVID-19
Unfortunately, there have been national reports of racist and xenophobic violence across the UK related to coronavirus. The university condemns any form of racist behaviour and will not tolerate any incidents of this nature. If you or someone you know has been a victim of any kind of hate crime, report it and seek support as needed.
Contact any of the following people and organisations to talk about discrimination:
- The Student Equality and Diversity Officer, Helen Munro. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 01248 388021
- The International Student Support Office. E-mail: email@example.com Tel: 01248 38 8430
- Your Students’ Union, Undeb Bangor
- Victim Support. You can also call their 24-hour helpline on 0808 1689 111.
- Stop Hate. You can also call their 24-hour helpline on 0800 138 1625.