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BBP Volunteers – Looking after your mental wellbeing during the COVID-19 outbreak

It’s a difficult time for us all at the moment.  The community side of BBP is suspended, and self-isolation is likely to affect many of us over the next few weeks.  Added to which, there’s an endless stream of alarming (and sometimes bogus) information washing over us all the time.  It’s OK to be worried.

There’s also a lot of really good info out there to help us minimise anxiety and stress.  Look for advice from your GP or mental health practitioner.  And look for solid information from (for example) the World Health Organisation, the NHS, or Public Health England.  Or from a reputable NGO, like MIND or the Mental Health Foundation, if you prefer your info non-governmental.

The experts seem to agree that there are several things we can all do to minimise mental health issues in relation to COVID-19.  We can all:

  1. Take control of the information we’re consuming. We all need to stay informed, but try to focus on searching out information that’s actually useful to you.  Try to restrict your intake of news or social feeds that you find upsetting.  And make sure that what you are taking on is reliable; source check and fact check before you worry about social media posts.
  2. Plan for being at home for an extended period. What will you need?  What will you do?  How will you get hold of food or medication?  Making a plan ahead of time can make you feel more in control, and ease anxiety.
  3. Develop a new routine, and keep busy. Maybe volunteer elsewhere (for a bit!) to substitute for your BBP volunteering, or help vulnerable neighbours if you’re out and about.  Or develop a new skill or interest if you do get stuck at home.  Try to keep your mind busy, and find time for exercise and fresh air, too!
  4. Stay connected! Remember that your BBP friends are here to help, and that Bristol is a supportive city full of lovely people.  Keep in touch with each other, and check in regularly to make sure that everyone’s doing OK.  Nobody’s going to mind having a chat if you need one.  And if you need support locally, check out your local Mutual Aid COVID-19 group.  They’ve sprung up all over the city.  If you go into the main Bristol Group, they should be able to direct you to one for your postcode (or look for the map with the postcode areas on it).  Loads of lovely people offering help with everything from shopping to dog walking to just a chat if you need one.

Let’s stick together, help each other out, and get through this safe and well!


Sources / Links for more info:

World Health Organisation – overview doc on mental health issues in relation to COVID-19.  Paragraphs 1-6 and 22-24 are relevant to all. Other parts refer to people with specific roles.

BBC – Coronavirus: How to Protect your Mental Health.  Information management, OCD and managing anxiety.

NHS – COVID-19 Basic factsheet and guidance.

NHS – Stay at Home Advice.

Public Health England – Basic COVID-19 info.

MIND – Toolkit of ideas for planning to stay at home, and for managing your well-being.  Also has emergency contacts for people in crisis.

The Mental Health Foundation – information management, staying connected, new routines