“IT'S OK to be scared. It’s OK to be sad."

This is a message from Keighley GP for local people struggling to cope with the pressures of coronavirus.

Dr Phillipa Smith is the practice director at Farfield Medical Centre in Keighley and a trustee of charity It’s OK To Say which supports GPs around the country who have a special interest in mental health.

Living in the Keighley area with her young family, she wanted to share tips on how to cope from her experience, plus focused advice from the It's Okay To Say network.

Phillipa admitted coronavirus was frightening everyone, but she said: "If there has ever been a time to support, show love and understanding, it is now.

"Our modern ways allow us to stay connected and we’re able to offer more help. This is a heightened time and has the ability to provoke so many feelings, just as it can bring the best and the worst out in people.

“It’s OK to be scared, it’s OK to be sad, I am too, but there is always hope, love and kindness.”

Phillipa said coronavirus had led to an unsettling time for everyone – children, parents, teachers and doctors alike.

She said: "Some of the negative behaviour we have witnessed is upsetting but I think this is all because people are scared and worried.

“At work I have seen a huge increase in anxiety, both in patients and staff, but I find this is reduced by talking and supporting each other.

“Also getting some fresh air, taking a walk, listening to music can all help. Trying to stick to a routine can also alleviate some anxieties too.

“I feel a lot of this is like a grief reaction. People are grieving loss and it’s OK to grieve.

“We have all lost something already - lost time with our friends, seeing grandparents, finishing school, taking our exams we have worked so very hard towards.

“I grieve all the things I’ve had to Tippex out of my diary - children’s activities, sports, competitions, races, parties and holidays.

“But we are all pulling together to get through this... I’ve seen my team make amazing things happen in days that would have normally taken months of planning (and arguing!).

"Hospitals are ready, they have the most fantastic people working for the NHS who will always go above and beyond to do their best.

“Pollution has reduced, communities are coming together to help vulnerable people. We can do this, we can help protect our elderly at risk - these are the very people who lost so much when they were our age - they went to war, they lost loved ones, they changed their lives all so that we could live freely.

“We have so much support via digital technology - we may be isolating but we are not alone

“So it’s OK to be scared. It’s OK to be sad. But this will make us stronger and we will grow. There is always hope, love and kindness.”

It's Okay To Say founder Stacey Turner has issued her 'Big 8' objectives for coping with the lockdown:

- Stay at home!

- Put mental health support in place

- Talk to your children openly to minimise the negative impact on them

- Keep moving and exercise inside and outsid;

- Eat well and nourish the body

- Reach out for help and ask for help, there are no burdens here!

- Try to anticipate stress and be mindful

- Embrace this gifted time