Caring for ourselves and others in the coronavirus outbreak

Laura Banks

19 March 2020

In a recent speech that has already become iconic, Leo Varadkar has said: “In years to come, let them say that when things were at their worst, we were at our best.”

These are inspiring words which offer a beacon of hope, encouraging us to come together and look to the future. Yet many of us will feel far from our best at the current time and unable to manage day by day let alone look forward.

As each of us try to digest the news of the coronavirus outbreak and consider how it affects almost every aspect of our lives, it is inevitable that we will be feeling stressed and overwhelmed. The changes that we are having to make to our daily routines as well the worry about our health, jobs and those of our families are putting us all under pressure.

Much like coronavirus, mental health issues can strike any of us. Northern Irelands anti- stigma charity, Change your mind, has published important guidance  encouraging us to look after not only our physical health but our emotional health at this time. These steps include:

-          Connecting with others around us- albeit by phone, text or facetime

-          Exercising our bodies and minds- for example taking walks or doing an online work out, or a puzzle or crossword, learning a new skill

-          Taking regular breaks from constant news and making time to enjoy life’s simple pleasures

-          Being kind and helping others in the community in any way that we can and, if we need help, reaching out to ask for it.

It is also important that we know where we can get reliable information and help in an emergency. This is especially true when there is so much inaccurate and misleading information circulating, particularly online and on social media.

If you need advice on symptoms of Coronavirus and when to get help, refer to NHS guidance.

For anyone who has been affected by job losses / hardship & needs advice on benefits, Communities NI has set up a dedicated website which they are regularly updating and this includes contact numbers for crisis finance support services.

Many Community Advice Centres and Charities can also offer independent benefits advice and help. Whilst many advice centres will not be able to open their offices to the public, they are operating phonelines for anyone needing advice and urgent help and this also covers emergency food and heating supplies.

The Samaritans have also issued guidance on what you can do if you are concerned about your mental health or that of someone you know.

Time will tell if Leo Varadkar’s words ring true. Certainly, we have seen some remarkable acts of kindness and displays of solidarity in recent times. For now, we must remain hopeful together; giving and seeking the appropriate help and support that is necessary to take good care of ourselves and others.

Francis Hanna & Co continues to operate for our clients’ needs. We can be contacted on 028 9024 3901.

For further information, see links above or check out Change Your Mind on Social Media: Instagram: @changeyourmindni Twitter: @cymantistigma