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Notes From a Mental Health Nurse: The New Normal

10 September 20 words: Notes from a Mental Health Nurse
illustrations: Leosaysays

Our resident mental health nurse returns with advice on how to cope with life post-lockdown...

It’s good to be back! I feel that somewhere deep down inside, I should have felt lucky to have sustained employment throughout this time of uncertainty and chaos. However, in all honesty I don’t. I am worn out and as fraught as the next person. I am sick of having to regurgitate ever-changing advice that is drip-fed to me on a near daily basis. Some of it makes sense, but with a heavy dose of making it up as you go along.

I have worried for loved ones, myself, the world. I am fortunate enough to be mentally quite well currently and have good networks to support me when I’m not. So, when I reflect on the journey of those that I support, I have nothing but respect and admiration for their strength in dealing with an extra layer of extreme stress.

There was an initial surge of people that sought support and advice relating to COVID-19. Thereafter, many people reported a sense of calm. Those with social anxiety said they felt relief that there was no pressure to go out, in fact the government was actively discouraging this. Home shopping delivery was being hailed as the most sensible way to buy food – music to the ears of someone who feels sick at the thought of going out. Many said that they felt less excluded from society, with an increased perception of having a shared experience with the world. 

This is, however, unlikely to be sustained as we are all encouraged to return to life as best as we can, the ‘new normal.’ I now envisage an overwhelming number of referrals to mental health services as people emerge from this time with grief, trauma and losses. But hope is not lost. New ways of working have been developed and phone/video consultations are being used for the first time. For many, this technology has provided a physical barrier that has made the first step to seeking help less intimidating and raw. The same help is still available: GP, Insight Healthcare, Let’s Talk Wellbeing, Trent PTS, Samaritans and loads of telephone support lines from charities/self-help. So please do not think that you and your mental health are not important, and seek help.

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