Anxiety soars following ‘Freedom Day’ with spike in mental health calls
With the fourth and final step of eased lockdown restrictions being enacted last Monday, the region’s leading mental health consortium charity has revealed a surge in crisis calls relating to anxiety. Since the changes, Living Well UK has seen record numbers of people across Birmingham and Solihull reach out, with over 350 contacts in the last seven days alone.
Despite ‘Freedom Day’ marking the end of compulsory mask-wearing, social distancing, and group number restrictions, Living Well UK reports that the number of people who are feeling isolated, anxious, and scared has reached highs similar to that of last year’s total lockdown.
What’s more, the charity’s experts are predicting that this is only set to rise, in line with increased community infection rates and hospitalisation cases.
Living Well UK’s CEO, Ben Howells, comments:
“Throughout the pandemic, we have provided COVID-specific mental health and wellbeing support for those struggling in the region and we have never seen an increase as sharp as this one. Time and again, our therapists are hearing from people who say they feel uneasy about the total lifting of restrictions – not least because they now feel that they are being expected to return to a ‘normal’ that no longer feels safe for them or their families.
“Those with long-term health conditions have been particularly affected: with as many as 2.2million Brits shielding since March last year, vast numbers of people are telling us that they have been forgotten by the new guidance and feel more alone than ever.”
Following the implementation of lockdown measures last March, Living Well UK debuted two dedicated COVID-19 response telephone lines: one for key-workers who were facing increased stress, pressure, and burn-out; and another for the general public who were experiencing worries or low-mood related to the pandemic.
Adding to this, the charity also launched a LiveChat instant messaging function, connecting those struggling or looking for someone to talk to, with support in real-time. Complete with an in-built translation service to ensure there’s no language barrier to accessing support, this web-based option helps those who prefer typing to talking to get help.
The combination of these provisions, combined with NHS referrals, has seen Living Well UK help almost 14,000 people in the last 16 months alone – and the numbers are showing no signs of slowing yet.
“The circumstances we’ve lived with since the start of the pandemic have been completely alien to us; but now having adapted to these for almost a year and a half, it is natural to feel apprehensive and nervous about getting ‘back to normal’. Everyone will feel differently following ‘Freedom Day’ and that’s okay – but what we need to ensure is that those who are struggling know that there is help available to them, and how and where to access it. Our expert staff and therapists are on hand and are ready to assist, so please do pick up the phone or log on to chat if you’d like to talk,” concluded Ben Howells, CEO of Living Well UK.
To seek mental health and wellbeing advice, support, counselling or mental health crisis support, you can call Living Well UK on 0121 663 1217, or start a LiveChat conversation with a trained therapist