Social distancing, solitary confinement and the cancellation of events are a concerning concoction for everyone’s mental health. Not to even mention the financial implications, the anxiety surrounding contracting the disease, or worse still the distress of losing a loved one.
Mental Health Awareness Week
Since its inception in 2001 then, it’s hard to imagine a more universally poignant time for the Mental Health Association’s ‘Mental Health Awareness Week’ to fall. Amidst all the COVID-19 upset though, there have been incredible tales of rejuvenated support and humanity, emerging from all corners of the globe. This year’s topic reflects this – and focuses on ‘kindness’.
‘We have learnt that amid the fear, there is also community, support and hope’, says the UK based charity, who have been pioneering for change for more than 70 years.
Lock-down Mental Health Statistics
Recent surveys conducted throughout lock-down show a perhaps predictable – but no-less-concerning – picture of the potential long-term scale of the impact on our mental health.
One third (33%) of people in the UK said they have financial concerns such as going into debt, rising to 52% for those who are unemployed.
One third (33%) of those in work worried about losing their job.
45% of those unemployed worried about their existing mental health problems worsening.
45% of students also worried about their existing mental health problems worsening. 
Prevention & Private Medical Insurance
According to the Mental Health Association, ‘prevention’ is at the heart of everything they do and it’s something we believe in strongly for all aspects of health.Private Medical Insurance (PMI)allows you to prioritise your health and embrace prevention – as well as cure. It offers direct and indirect support for mental health.
PMI does not compete with the NHS; it complements and supports it, to achieve reduced waiting times and access to additional treatments and medications. According to NHS England; ‘One in four adults experiences at least one diagnosable mental health problem in any given year’, and ‘Mental health problems represent the largest single cause of disability in the UK’. 
‘Mental health’ the same as ‘physical health’ is something that everyone has – whether it is good or bad at any given time. Just as you can take care of your physical health, there are plenty of things you can do to support your mental health too. We take a look below at our top five suggestions for being kind to yourself, and some ways your private medical insurance policy could help.
Talk about your feelings
Open up. It’s not a sign of weakness, it is the strength to take control of your own well-being and be proactive about protecting it. Just the act of being listened to can make you feel more supported, and talking things through can give you a chance to get some perspective. This can mean talking to a friend or family member, or seeking professional help. Many of the insurers we work with offer simple and fast access to mental health support and treatment. In these times, the option of electronic and telephone based counseling is particularly important – enabling a high level of support to be maintained.
This means something different to everyone. You don’t have to sign up for a marathon to feel good – but regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and help you concentrate. Experts recommend around 30 minutes’ exercise, at least five days a week. Some of the policies we recommend support and encourage your exercise efforts – offering rewards for reaching your daily movement goals. Others encourage you to get more active with discounts for gym memberships. Find what works for you. Your usual exercise may be out of bounds at the moment, but there are a hundred different ways to weave movement into your day. Perhaps some gardening, or yoga are more your thing? Even just a simple walk can be a huge boost to your mood.
A diet that’s good for your physical health is good for your mental health too. The brain requires the correct mix of nutrients to function, just as any other organ in the body does. The effects of our diet on our brain are clearly evident with the rapid effects of coffee or sugar. Being mindful of how many high-caffeine or sugary drinks you have can help. Avoiding too much alcohol and drinking plenty of water are important too. PMI providers we work with offer a wealth of nutrition support and advice to keep you on track.
Keep in Touch
At times of stress, we work better in company and with support. Strong family ties and supportive friends help you deal with all the stresses life throws at us. Social distancing requires new ways to keep connected, but it’s more important than ever. Whilst nothing will replace a face-to-face catch up and a hug – video calls and social media are a good second best.
Take a break
The current situation and life in general can be overwhelming and exhausting at times. A change of scenery or a change of pace can be good for your mental health. Working from home or being confined with others in the house can be stressful. Take a deep breath and relax. Try yoga, meditation or even just a relaxing bath to allow for some head-space. Whatever it is that brings you back to you. Listen to your body, if you are really tired, you might need a sleep more than just a break.