While there are reassuring developments with the rollout of vaccines, after nearly a year we are again in a tight lockdown taking an increasing toll on our mental health. Since the pandemic began, mental health issues and demand for support have increased substantially. A recent survey by Public Health England (PHE) found half of adults surveyed said they were more worried during this current lockdown than in March 2020. Significant proportions said they had experienced anxiety (46%), stress (44%), sleep problems (34%) and low mood (46%) throughout the pandemic.
The cumulative nature of stress also means that the sustained nature of the pandemic results in our not benefitting from the recovery times between episodic periods of stress. Anxiety about the virus, loved ones, job security, finances, persistent uncertainty, and restrictions on work, travel and social lives have been unrelenting for many. Some people resist seeking help as they feel a burden on the NHS at this time of pressure, and there is often a stigma attached to staff reaching out if they are struggling for fear it will negatively impact on their careers.
At the same time, traditional means of accessing and delivering diagnoses and treatment have been reduced due to social distancing and pressures on the system. Fortunately, there are additional options and ways in which we can help to maintain or improve our staff’s and own mental wellbeing. Nurturing open lines of communication so staff feel free to reach out if they are struggling is a simple but important first step.
Engaging in physical activity has huge improvements on our mental health so providing flexibility for staff to fit getting out and exercising into their day can be highly beneficial. Being amongst nature or green spaces has been shown to have many positive effects on mental and physical wellbeing and just ten minutes of brisk walking can improve mental alertness, energy and boost our mood.
Interest in mental health apps to remotely manage mental health issues has accelerated and there’s a long list of benefits associated with using them. They are medication-free, can reduce the stigma associated with accessing mental health support and are available 24/7 to be completed at your own pace. Importantly, some of these digital interventions are clinically proven to be effective and supported by the NHS. As an example, a scientific study into the effectiveness of our Be Mindful mindfulness-based cognitive therapy course showed course completers enjoying a 63% reduction in depression, a 40% reduction in stress and a 58% anxiety reduction.
An estimated 10,000-plus mental health-related apps are available on the worldwide market so there’s a wide choice of tools on offer to help you and your team members to improve your mental health. They can be highly effective but there are variations in the levels of quality and effectiveness of apps so it’s important to find what works best for your and your team’s needs.
For those living or working in London, the Good Thinking website offers free access to clinically proven digital mental health interventions to those experiencing anxiety, low-mood, stress and sleeping difficulties. Funded by the London Councils, Public Health England and the NHS, it has reached over 250,000 people since its launch and is a useful resource to recommend to staff in need. Be Mindful is available alongside other supported online mental health programmes such as My Cognition Pro and My Possible Self.
When it comes to providing tools to help remote workers in the pandemic, mental health apps offer effective solutions that allow people to take ownership and care of their own mental health in a way that works for them. Remote working and social distancing have shone a light on the benefits of digital mental health solutions, benefits they can continue to provide once lockdown restrictions ease.
About Wellmind Health
Wellmind Health have been pioneers in the space of health apps for over a decade since the launch of their Meditainment library of guided meditations. The company’s Be Mindful and Pathway though Pain flexible online programmes significantly reduce depression, stress and anxiety and dramatically improve the self-management of chronic pain. Clinically proven and NHS-approved, the medication-free digital innovations guide participants to improved, long-term outcomes.