By Dr Arun Mandepanda Thimmiah, responsible for maternity and midwifery services at the Morecambe Bay Primary Care Collaborative:
Q. I’ve lost my job and I’m still struggling, what can I do to improve my mental health?
A. Loss of employment is a common cause of stress. Not only is it the loss of income but, often, work provides purpose and social interaction.
Lockdown restrictions have meant that we all see fewer people, less often.
This can be compounded as loss of employment can mean not seeing people regularly. Current national restrictions do allow for socialising in public, so do make contact with those close to you if you feel you are able.
If your mental health is really deteriorating - for example, you’re feeling low mood more often, struggling to be motivated or not sleeping or eating as usual - then you should contact your GP for help. Anxiety, stress and depression can often be managed with medication and counselling.
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts then seek help immediately. You can speak to your GP practice who will be able to help. Please also note down the Samaritans number: 116 123. You can call this number 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and they are there to listen.
For more information on counselling, please visit the NHS website. You can also self-refer using the link: https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/talking-therapies-medicine-treatments/talking-therapies-and-counselling/counselling/
There is a helpful self-assessment tool on the NHS website which takes approximately 10 minutes to complete, and which can provide you with some initial information and suggestions: https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/self-help/guides-tools-and-activities/depression-anxiety-self-assessment-quiz/
Additionally, there is some advice on dealing with difficult life situations, including financial difficulties here: https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/advice-for-life-situations-and-events/
Please don’t feel you are alone in this.
One-in-four adults and one-in-ten children experience mental illness during their lifetimes, and many more of us know and care for people who do. Many of us go through difficult times in our lives, which can leave us feeling worried, anxious or depressed and feeling unable to cope. If you need help, please do get in touch.