“We’re Dealing With Anger, Anxiety & Self-Harm” Mental Health Support Workers Under Coronavirus

Photographed by Lauren Maccabee.
With 230,000 cases of coronavirus in the UK, and over 33,000 confirmed fatalities so far, we’re all concerned about our physical health at the moment. But the pandemic is having a profound impact on our mental health, too.
A recent study by mental health research charity MQ and the Academy of Medical Sciences found that one in five of us is worried about the impact of the pandemic on mental health, while a poll taken during the first week of lockdown by YoungMinds found that coronavirus had already worsened the mental health of a massive 83% of respondents.
This comes at a time when mental health support is increasingly difficult to access, as indicated by a survey published by Mind last week, which found that nearly a quarter of people who sought mental health support in the previous fortnight failed to get any help, facing cancelled appointments, difficulty getting through to their GP or community mental health team, or being turned away from crisis services.
With so many others experiencing disruption to their treatment thanks to the pandemic, waiting times for the NHS’ chronically underfunded mental health provisions are likely to increase further in the months following lockdown, meaning that those hit hardest by the pandemic might struggle to get help for a lot longer.

It’s no surprise, then, that frontline charities and private mental health services are finding themselves particularly busy at the moment, with many hotlines experiencing a dramatic increase in calls and existing clients presenting worse symptoms as a result of the pandemic. Here, five women who work or volunteer for mental health support services tell us what the last few weeks have looked like for them.

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