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Mental Health during Lockdown – are we facing a concurrent epidemic?

There was collective hysteria at the start of the coronavirus outbreak about the threat of imminent death which was shortly followed by a huge deprivation of liberty. Now that we are more than 10 weeks into lockdown, we seem to be faced with an additional epidemic; one that relates to mental health.

According to a recent survey undertaken by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, people with no previous mental health history are developing problems for the first time as a result of lockdown. Many reasons have been cited as to why this might be the case, including the uncertainty of not knowing when lockdown will end, tensions at home from having to spend so much time together, job insecurity, relationship breakdown and bereavement. Whilst, like with many studies, there will be issues with the data collected and it will not yet clear what the long-term impact of the coronavirus pandemic will be on mental health, it is obvious that we are all being challenged as we are having to deal with a situation that we have never before encountered during our lifetime. Some individuals will be affected more than others depending on individual situations and whether there are any previous issues of mental health.

Mental Health Awareness Week – Kindness in uncertain times

The theme for Mental Health Awareness week this year (18th – 24th May 2020) was ‘kindness’, which is something that has prevailed all over the world during this uncertain time. The Mental Health Foundation has provided examples of how we can all spread kindness; the thinking behind this is that kindness can apparently boost our mental health. Examples include calling a friend that you haven’t spoken to for a while, donating to charity, cooking for someone, praising a colleague or sending a joke to a friend. It is wonderful to see such a strong emphasis on community spirit, basic human kindness and consequently mental health. We should be talking about it, acknowledging it and looking at ways we can support one another.

I have personally enjoyed spending more time at home with my family but I am missing the office, colleagues and my clients. It has been especially troubling to hear of the Covid deaths amongst clients and families/friends of clients and to hear that the same support is not available. I have seen funerals being ‘streamed’ online because people may not have been able to attend and if they were able to attend, the social distancing rules meant that they had to sit on their own, two metres apart from one another. This must feel very isolating to some – the lack of comfort and reassurance from face to face support and the lack of physical contact.

As a Private Client Solicitor, mental health awareness is essential to many aspects of my role as it can affect capacity and decision making. It is paramount to Will making and Power of Attorney Deeds; both in relation to Health and Welfare and Property and Finances. It is clear that we are going to need to be especially aware of any issues that might affect decision making and capacity during this worrying time and for the duration of the aftermath, however long that may be for -  it will be different for each individual. We can however use this time to educate ourselves about mental health, to make more of an effort to talk about it and to do our bit to ‘spread the kindness’.

Mental Health Support and Services

If you or anyone you know is affected by mental health issues there are various organisations that can provide support. The NHS website provides guidance on how to access mental health services – http://www.nhs.uk/using-thenhs/nhs-services/mental-health-services/how-to-access-mental-health-services/

There are also various charities that provide support that are listed on the NHS website, including:

The Charity Mind support helpline - 0300123 3393

The Samaritans -  116 123

Anxiety UK – 03444 775 774

Mental Health Foundation – website www.mind.org.uk

How we can help

Nina Sperring is an experienced Private Client Solicitor at Bartletts Solicitors in Chester. Our offices are friendly and welcoming. We would always encourage you to tell us if you are in any way worried or anxious; we will always try our best to put clients at ease, including home visits if you would prefer.

Our Wills and Probate professionals can advise you in relation to all aspects of Private Client Law, including Lasting Power of Attorney Deeds, Wills, Trusts and Estate Administration.

For advice and guidance please contact our Hoole office on 01244 311 633 or freephone 0800 988 3674 or email advice@bartletts.co.uk