The world is currently dealing with an unprecedented situation. The Coronavirus outbreak has changed life as we know it — we are unable to travel, socialise, go to work, spend time with our family if they do not live with us or even get basic essentials such as toilet roll, pasta or rice.
Supermarket shelves are empty in some parts of the country, and schools are closing.
This situation is difficult on our collective and individual mental health. Many will be experiencing high levels of anxiety, stress and worry for their first time in their lives, while others will be dealing with an exacerbation of an existing mental health problem. Self-isolation, quarantine and social distancing will be fuelling loneliness, depression and other existing problems for many people.
Those who suffer from agoraphobia, contamination OCD, social phobia or health anxiety will be feeling very confused as this time, as all of a sudden, the world is acting how you have been told in therapy not to act.
The chief executive of OCD UK has written an impassioned piece on how he is coping during this time, and I would urge anyone who is a recovered or active OCD sufferer to give it a read for some additional advice during this particularly testing time.
This is a tough time for the whole of society.
The Chasing the Stigma team is no different. I am a father of two, who is married to a self-employed businesswoman. Our economic, work and childcare situations have been turned on their heads in the space of one week. My family is now wondering: what next? I employ three people on a part-time basis and work with other local freelancers and SMEs who keep this charity going and help provide and innovate the vital services we offer. How will I pay them moving forward? How can we continue to provide our training programme in workplaces? How can we continue to reach as many people as possible in need? Where the hell am I going to find some loo roll?!
My team and I are in the same boat as everyone else — but we are still here to help.
At this very moment, we might not have all the answers, but we are working on it. We are currently coming up with new ways to engage with people who are struggling with their mental health at this time. The team has some exciting ideas and we hope to get them up and running shortly.
But we will need your help along the way. Please look out for updates of the coming days in regards to how you can help us make a difference to people across the UK.
If you have any ideas or questions, please do get in touch and will try our best to get back to you as quickly as possible – but please do bear with us.
You can still visit the Hub of Hope to find local services near you. However, due to the current situation some of those services will be closed, operating reduced hours or working remotely. Please do contact any service directly BEFORE attending. Remember that many charities also have their own phone or text lines for specific issues such as OCD and eating disorders, so make sure you have those numbers available if you need them.
Above all, it is important to remember the basics. If you or someone is in crisis or you feel as though you or they are a danger to themselves or others, ALWAYS call 999. If you need someone to talk to, text HOPE to 85258.
Please remember, being in isolation doesn’t mean you are isolated. We are all in this together.
No matter how bad things may seem right now, there will be a way through it. There is always hope and that hope is what we get us through this, together.
Take care, look out for one another and we’ll see you all soon via socially distanced means!
CEO, Chasing the Stigma