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Taking Care of our mental health during COVID-19

I wrote this blog for YouthLink Scotland for Mental Health Awarness Week - https://www.youthlinkscotland.org/news/may-2020/taking-care-of-our-mental-health-and-wellbeing-during-covid-19/

 

Our mental health and wellbeing officer Sean Humphreys talks about how we can take care of ourselves and others as we continue to adapt to life under lockdown.

Whether you are reading this as a young person, a youth worker or an organisation that works with young people, you may be feeling scared, worried or anxious right now. You might also feel sad, flat, detached or numb. Maybe you will feel none of those things but are noticing the impact of COVID19 in another way. If so, then you are human.

The results of the recent Lockdown Lowdown survey, which we worked on alongside our partners Young Scot and the Scottish Youth Parliament, certainly show that a lot of young people are not feeling okay right now. And young people are not alone in this. Whoever you are, if you are not feeling okay then you are certainly not alone.

Our feelings are important and we should never try to fight them. It is crucial that we acknowledge how we feel – to listen to what our feelings are trying to tell us. If we can, it is also important to try to understand how we feel and to make sense of it. This is not always possible but it can offer us ideas for what to do to help us to feel better, or just to simply be.

We know that many things are important for the mental part, as well as the physical part of our health. Learning, fun, creativity, activity, exercise, relaxation, sleep, nutrition and hydration are all ingredients for feeling healthy. The key is that each of us find the balance of ingredients that works for us – because we are all unique.

Another crucial ingredient is relationships. Often, the best thing that we can do – no matter how we are feeling - is to connect with others in whatever way that we can. Talking always helps us. And listening always helps others.

The abrupt changes that the current Covid-19 situation has brought, along with the concerns that we have about the health of our loved ones and ourselves, is the reason that many of us are struggling with mental health and wellbeing.

For as long as I have been involved in youth work, I have witnessed so many examples of positive action, underpinned by relationships, to support the mental health and wellbeing of young people.

For now, across the youth work sector - community halls, meeting rooms, cafes, sports clubs, offices, mountains and theatres, have been replaced by video and audio technology, messaging and social media. How we do the positive activity that we need to do, connect with others, and maintain our relationships has been transformed overnight.

However, with the usual creativity, collaboration and resilience, the youth work sector will continue to adapt and the positive action that we do together for mental health and wellbeing, for all of us will continue.

We will get through this. Things will feel ‘normal’ again one day. When that day comes, there will also be many positives that we will have had the chance to take forward from this most unwanted of unwanted situations. Positives that mean that we do not want to return to normal but instead find normal in a new way, a better way. A way that sees our mental health and wellbeing as being more of a priority. A way that sees some of the key ingredients for this - like community and connection, fairness and equality, nature and the environment - are given greater priority.

For now, it is important that we continue to focus on learning to adapt as well as we can, to be kind to ourselves when we are not feeling well as much as when we are, and that we to continue to do what we can to support others in whatever way we can.

You can follow Sean Humphreys on Twitter @NowCounselling or contact him by email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you would like to share examples of how the youth work has adapted during Covid-19 then please share with us on our social media channels @YouthLinkScot.

If you would like to learn more about how it is possible to adapt your youth work using digital technology then you can check out our digital youth work resources, which includes regular online webinars.