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Coronavirus Updates

Hands, Face, Space, Fresh Air Hands, Face, Space, Fresh Air
Westgate-on-Sea Town Council Coronavirus Updates

***Information from https://www.gov.uk/****

Guidance for the public on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus (COVID-19)


What you need to know

The coronavirus (COVID19) outbreak is going to have an impact on everyone’s daily lives, as the government and the NHS take necessary steps to manage the outbreak, reduce transmission and treat those who need medical attention.

It may be difficult, but by following guidance on social distancing, or staying at home, you are helping to protect yourself, your family, the NHS and your community.

During this time, you may be bored, frustrated or lonely. You may also feel low, worried, anxious, or be concerned about your health or that of those close to you. Everyone reacts differently to events and changes in the way that we think, feel and behave vary between different people and over time. It’s important that you take care of your mind as well as your body and to get further support if you need it.

Background

This guide provides advice on how to look after your mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

For wider guidance on how to protect yourself and others, and actions to take if you think you may have contracted the virus please see the guidance on this page.

This guidance will be updated in line with the changing situation.

What can help your mental health and wellbeing

Consider how to connect with others: Maintaining relationships with people you trust is important for your mental wellbeing. Think about how you can stay in touch with friends and family via telephone, video calls or social media instead of meeting in person – whether it’s people you normally see often or connecting with old friends.

Help and support others: Think about how you could help those around you – it could make a big difference to them and can make you feel better too. Could you message a friend or family member nearby? Are there community groups that you could join to support others locally? Remember it’s important to do this in line with guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19) to keep yourself and everyone safe. And try to be accepting of other people’s concerns, worries or behaviours.

Talk about your worries: It is quite common to feel worried, scared or helpless about the current situation. Remember that this is a difficult time for everyone and sharing how you are feeling and the things you are doing to cope with family and friends can help them too. If you don’t feel able to do that, there are people you can speak to via NHS recommended helplines or you could find support groups online to connect with.

Look after your physical wellbeing: Your physical health has a big impact on how you are feeling emotionally and mentally. At times like these, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour which in turn can make you feel worse. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water, exercise inside where possible and outside once a day, and try to avoid smoking, alcohol and drugs.

If you are able to go outside, consider walking or gardening (keeping the recommended 2 metres from others as outlined in the social distancing guidance). If you are staying at home, you can find free easy 10 minute work outs from Public Health England or other exercise videos to try at home on the NHS Fitness Studio. Sport England also has good tips for keeping active at home.

Look after your sleep: Feeling anxious or worried can make it harder to get a good night’s sleep. Good-quality sleep makes a big difference to how you feel mentally and physically, so it’s important to get enough.

Try to maintain regular sleeping patterns and keep good sleep hygiene practices – like avoiding screens before bed, cutting back on caffeine and creating a restful environment. The Every Mind Matters sleep page provides practical advice on how to improve your sleep.

Try to manage difficult feelings: Many people find the news about coronavirus (COVID-19) concerning. However, some people may experience such intense anxiety that it becomes a problem. Try to focus on the things you can control, including where you get information from and actions to make yourself feel better prepared.

It is okay to acknowledge some things that are outside of your control right now but constant repetitive thoughts about the situation which lead you to feel anxious or overwhelmed are not helpful. The Every Mind Matters page on anxiety and NHS mental wellbeing audio guides provide further information on how to manage anxiety.

Manage your media and information intake: 24-hour news and constant social media updates can make you more worried. If it is affecting you, try to limit the time you spend watching, reading, or listening to media coverage of the outbreak. It may help to only check the news at set times or limiting to a couple of checks a day.

Get the facts: Gather high-quality information that will help you to accurately determine your own or other people’s risk of contracting coronavirus (COVID-19) so that you can take reasonable precautions. Find a credible source you can trust such as GOV.UK, or the NHS website, and fact check information that you get from newsfeeds, social media or from other people.

Think about how possibly inaccurate information could affect others too. Try not to share information without fact-checking against credible sources.

Think about your new daily routine: Life is changing for us all for a while. Whether you are staying at home or social distancing, you are likely to see some disruption to your normal routine.

Think about how you can adapt and create positive new routines – try to engage in useful activities (such as cleaning, cooking or exercise) or meaningful activities (such as reading or calling a friend). You might find it helpful to write a plan for your day or your week.

Do things you enjoy: When you are anxious, lonely or low you may do things that you usually enjoy less often, or not at all. Focussing on your favourite hobby, learning something new or simply taking time to relax indoors should give you some relief from anxious thoughts and feelings and can boost your mood.

If you can’t do the things you normally enjoy because you are staying at home, try to think about how you could adapt them, or try something new. There are lots of free tutorials and courses online and people are coming up with innovative online solutions like online pub quizzes and streamed live music concerts.

Set goals: Setting goals and achieving them gives a sense of control and purpose – think about things you want or need to do that you can still do at home. It could be watching a film, reading a book or learning something online.

Keep your mind active: Read, write, play games, do crossword puzzles, sudokus, jigsaws or drawing and painting. Find something that works for you.

Take time to relax and focus on the present: This can help with difficult emotions, worries about the future, and can improve wellbeing. Relaxation techniques can also help some people to deal with feelings of anxiety. For useful resources see Every Mind Matters and NHS’ mindfulness page.

If you can, once a day get outside, or bring nature in: Spending time in green spaces can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing. If you can’t get outside much you can try to still get these positive effects by spending time with the windows open to let in fresh air, arranging space to sit and see a nice view (if possible) and get some natural sunlight, or get out into the garden if you can.

Remember that social distancing guidelines enable you to go outside to exercise once a day as long as you keep 2 metres apart from others who are not members of your household group.

Staying at home

Recent guidance is clear about the need for people to stay at home. If you are feeling anxious it might help to think about potential challenges and make a plan for them.

Practical issues

Supplies: Think about how you can get any supplies you need – either from a neighbour, family friends or a delivery service so you don’t worry about running out. Try to pick healthy food, especially as you might not get as much exercise as normal.

Financial concerns: You may be worried about work and money if you have to stay home – these issues can have a big impact on your mental health. For guidance on what your rights are at work, what benefits you are entitled and what further support is available please see our guidance for employees or advice from citizens advice or the National Debt line.

If you care for other people: You may be worried about how to ensure care for those who rely on you – either your dependants at home or others that you regularly visit. Let your local authority know if you provide care, or support someone you don’t live with. Further advice on creating a contingency plan is available from Carers UK.

If you are being treated or taking medication for existing conditions

Continue accessing treatment and support where possible: Let relevant services know that you are staying at home, and work out how to continue receiving support during this time:

  • ask about having appointments by phone, text or online. For example, this could be with your counsellor, therapist or support worker, nurse, care worker or befriender

  • if you use care services that will be affected by staying at home, you should let your local authority and care provider know so alternative arrangements can be put in place

  • make it clear if any support is still needed. Tell them that alternative arrangements are required if any of the usual support can’t continue. This may include things like carers visiting, day centre sessions, or friends and family coming over to help

Keep taking your medication: You might be able to order repeat prescriptions by phone, or online using an app or website if your doctor’s surgery offers this.

  • ask your pharmacy about getting your medication delivered or think about who you could ask to collect it for you. The NHS website has more information about getting prescriptions for someone else and checking if you have to pay for prescriptions

  • continue to order your repeat prescriptions in your usual timeframe. There is no need to order for a longer duration or larger quantities

  • your GP practice (or clinical team) may move your prescriptions to repeat dispensing arrangements so you only have to contact your pharmacy to get a repeat of your medicine rather than your practice

  • be careful about buying medication online. You should only buy from registered pharmacies. You can check if a pharmacy is registered on the General Pharmaceutical Council website

  • you can contact NHS 111 in England if you’re worried about accessing medication

Where to get further support

Managing physical symptoms that are triggered by stress and anxiety

It is quite common to experience short-lived physical symptoms when your mood is low or anxious, for example:

  • faster, irregular or more noticeable heartbeat
  • feeling lightheaded and dizzy
  • headaches
  • chest pains or loss of appetite

It can be difficult to know what is causing these symptoms, but often people who experience them due to stress, anxiety or low mood find that they get worse when they focus on them. See advice from the NHS on managing the physical symptoms.

If you are concerned about your physical symptoms, then do contact NHS 111 online.

For advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) and any symptoms see the NHS website.

If you are experiencing stress, feelings of anxiety or low mood, you can use the NHS mental health and wellbeing advice website for self-assessment, audio guides and practical tools Every Mind Matters also provides simple tips and advice to start taking better care of your mental health. If you are still struggling after several weeks and it is affecting your daily life, please contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111.

In a medical emergency call 999. This is when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk. A mental health emergency should be taken as seriously as a physical health emergency.

Additional advice for groups with specific mental health needs

Existing mental health problems

If you already have a mental health problem, then you may be finding the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak particularly challenging. The advice above should help, but here are a few extra things that you may want to think about. This advice is part of comprehensive guidance provided by Mind.

Managing difficult feelings or behaviours to do with hygiene, washing or fears of infection

Some mental health problems can cause difficult feelings or behaviours to do with washing or hygiene. If you experience this, you might find it hard to hear advice about washing your hands.

It is important to follow government advice on helping to avoid the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), but if you find you are going beyond the recommendations, if this is making you feel stressed or anxious, or if you are having intrusive thoughts here are some things you could try:

  • don’t keep re-reading the same advice if this is unhelpful for you
  • let other people know you’re struggling, for example you could ask them not to discuss the news with you
  • breathing exercises can help you cope and feel more in control. You can find a simple breathing exercise on the NHS website and Mind’s pages on relaxation have some relaxation tips and exercises you can try
  • set limits, like washing your hands for the recommended 20 seconds
  • plan something to do after washing your hands, which could help distract you and change your focus
  • it could also help to read some of Mind’s tips in their information on obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

Speaking to your mental health team

If you are already receiving mental health care, contact your mental health team to discuss how care will continue, and to update safety/care plans.

Managing panic and anxiety

If you have panic attacks or flashbacks, it might help to plan a ‘safe space’ in your home that you’ll go to.

You can also find ways to comfort yourself if you’re feeling anxious. For example, Mind has games and puzzles you can use to distract yourself, and breathing exercises which may help.

Managing feelings of being trapped or claustrophobia

You are probably spending more time than usual at home so try to get outside if you can, once a day. You could also open the windows to let in fresh air, find a place to sit with a view outside, or sit on your doorstep or in your garden if you have one. It can also help to regularly change the rooms you spend time in (if possible). This can help to give you a sense of space.

If you are reducing your drinking significantly

If you are reducing your drinking, remember it can be dangerous to stop too quickly without proper support. If you have physical withdrawal symptoms (like shaking, sweating or feeling anxious until you have your first drink of the day) you should seek medical advice. For further advice available in your area (including remote services) see NHS advice.

People with a learning disability

You may be finding the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak stressful. You may be worried about changes that might happen because of it, including having to stay at home. You may also be worried about your family or those close to you.

Public Health England has easy read guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19) and how it may affect you. There is also other information available about coronavirus (COVID-19) from Mencap and how to manage difficult feelings you are having.

There are ways you can take care of yourself and prevent spreading the virus:

  • as you are asked to now stay at home you should keep in touch with people you trust (like friends, family and employer) over the phone or internet - follow the advice from the stay at home and social distancing guidance
  • there may also be self-advocacy groups in your area offering more support online or by phone - you can ask your families or carers for help to search for these groups
  • it is also important to get information about coronavirus (COVID-19) only from places you can trust, such as the NHS website

While it is important to be aware of coronavirus (COVID-19), it is important not to forget about any other health conditions you might have. Make sure you take any medication you have been prescribed, keep any hospital appointments you have (unless you have been told otherwise by the hospital) and tell people if you can’t attend appointments.

Autistic people

You may be finding the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak stressful and be worried about getting the virus or changes that might happen because of it, including having to stay at home. There are ways you can take care of yourself and prevent spreading the virus:

Understand what is happening

Keep up to date with information about Coronavirus (COVID-19) from sources you can trust, such as the NHS website.

Help to stop the virus from spreading

There are 4 easy steps you can take to reduce the risk of getting coronavirus or spreading it to others:

  • wash hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water
  • use a tissue for coughs and sneezes and bin it
  • avoid touching your face, including your mouth and eyes
  • get up to date information about staying at home or what to do if you feel unwell on the NHS 111 website. If you are unsure about your symptoms speak to someone you trust about them, like a support worker.

Plan to keep mentally well

Do the things you would usually do to keep well, like eating food you enjoy and taking exercise, once a day outside if you can. If you have support from others, plan with them how you can remain well and relaxed. There are also other things you can do to help to manage your emotions if you feel you are losing control, such as:

  • keeping a diary
  • using apps like Brain in Hand
  • learning relaxation techniques
  • creating a plan with your carer for when you feeling anxiety

You know what strategies have helped in the past, so use them again now. The National Autistic Society guidance on managing anxiety might also be helpful.

Get help if you are struggling

Hearing about coronavirus (COVID-19), and the changes it causes in your daily life, might make you feel like you don’t have control, or make you worried or scared about your health. These feelings are common. Try to speak to someone you trust such as a friend, family member or supporter.

If you do become unwell and need medical treatment, share your hospital passport or autism diagnosis so staff know the best way to support you.

If you are still feeling worried and want more help. You can call the Autism Helpline on 0808 800 4104.

Older people

Government guidance is that older people are at increased risk of severe illness and need to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures and staying at home. Given this, it is natural for older people, particularly those with pre-existing medical conditions, to feel concerned or affected by changes you have to make to your daily life. The following suggestions may help with any difficult feelings and look after your mental health:

Stay connected

Draw on support you might have through your friends, family and other networks. Try to stay in touch with those around you, this might be over the phone, by post, or online. If you have been advised to stay at home, let people know how you would like to stay in touch and build that into your routine.

Get practical help

If you need help, for example with shopping or running errands, ask for it and let those around you know what they can do. If you need help but you’re not sure who to contact, Age UK runs an advice line (0800 678 1602 – lines are open every day 8am-7pm) that can put you in touch with local services.

People living with dementia

You may feel concerned about coronavirus how it could affect you. Alzheimer’s Society have published information on coronavirus for people affected by dementia.

If you’d like to connect and talk with other people affected by dementia, you can visit the Alzheimer’s Society online community Talking Point.

A range of information on information on dementia is also available from Alzheimer’s Research UK

If you are still feeling worried and want more help you can call the Alzheimer’s Society Helpline on 0300 222 11 22

You can also speak to a dementia specialist Admiral Nurse on Dementia UK’s Helpline, on 0800 888 6687.

Dealing with a mental health crisis or emergency

You may find that the added stress of the current situation could have a big impact on your mental health. In some cases, you may feel that you are having a mental health crisis as you no longer feel able to cope or be in control of your situation.

You may: feel great emotional distress or anxiety, feel that you cannot cope with day-to-day life or work, think about self-harm or even suicide, or experience or hear voices (hallucinations).

If this sort of situation happens, you should get immediate expert assessment and advice to identify the best course of action:

  • If you have already been given a Crisis Line number from a health professional, please call it.

  • If you’re under the care of a mental health team and have a specific care plan that states who to contact when you need urgent care, follow this plan.

  • Mind also provides information about how to plan for a crisis.

  • Samaritans has a free to call service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, if you want to talk to someone in confidence. Call them on 116 123.

  • Find local crisis support services near you that can support you.

  • You can contact NHS 111 if you need urgent care but it’s not life threatening.

    What you need to know

    The coronavirus (COVID19) outbreak is going to have an impact on everyone’s daily lives, as the government and the NHS take necessary steps to manage the outbreak, reduce transmission and treat those who need medical attention.

    It may be difficult, but by following guidance on social distancing, or staying at home, you are helping to protect yourself, your family, the NHS and your community.

    During this time, you may be bored, frustrated or lonely. You may also feel low, worried, anxious, or be concerned about your health or that of those close to you. Everyone reacts differently to events and changes in the way that we think, feel and behave vary between different people and over time. It’s important that you take care of your mind as well as your body and to get further support if you need it.

    Background

    This guide provides advice on how to look after your mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

    For wider guidance on how to protect yourself and others, and actions to take if you think you may have contracted the virus please see the guidance on this page.

    This guidance will be updated in line with the changing situation.

    What can help your mental health and wellbeing

    Consider how to connect with others: Maintaining relationships with people you trust is important for your mental wellbeing. Think about how you can stay in touch with friends and family via telephone, video calls or social media instead of meeting in person – whether it’s people you normally see often or connecting with old friends.

    Help and support others: Think about how you could help those around you – it could make a big difference to them and can make you feel better too. Could you message a friend or family member nearby? Are there community groups that you could join to support others locally? Remember it’s important to do this in line with guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19) to keep yourself and everyone safe. And try to be accepting of other people’s concerns, worries or behaviours.

    Talk about your worries: It is quite common to feel worried, scared or helpless about the current situation. Remember that this is a difficult time for everyone and sharing how you are feeling and the things you are doing to cope with family and friends can help them too. If you don’t feel able to do that, there are people you can speak to via NHS recommended helplines or you could find support groups online to connect with.

    Look after your physical wellbeing: Your physical health has a big impact on how you are feeling emotionally and mentally. At times like these, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour which in turn can make you feel worse. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water, exercise inside where possible and outside once a day, and try to avoid smoking, alcohol and drugs.

    If you are able to go outside, consider walking or gardening (keeping the recommended 2 metres from others as outlined in the social distancing guidance). If you are staying at home, you can find free easy 10 minute work outs from Public Health England or other exercise videos to try at home on the NHS Fitness Studio. Sport England also has good tips for keeping active at home.

    Look after your sleep: Feeling anxious or worried can make it harder to get a good night’s sleep. Good-quality sleep makes a big difference to how you feel mentally and physically, so it’s important to get enough.

    Try to maintain regular sleeping patterns and keep good sleep hygiene practices – like avoiding screens before bed, cutting back on caffeine and creating a restful environment. The Every Mind Matters sleep page provides practical advice on how to improve your sleep.

    Try to manage difficult feelings: Many people find the news about coronavirus (COVID-19) concerning. However, some people may experience such intense anxiety that it becomes a problem. Try to focus on the things you can control, including where you get information from and actions to make yourself feel better prepared.

    It is okay to acknowledge some things that are outside of your control right now but constant repetitive thoughts about the situation which lead you to feel anxious or overwhelmed are not helpful. The Every Mind Matters page on anxiety and NHS mental wellbeing audio guides provide further information on how to manage anxiety.

    Manage your media and information intake: 24-hour news and constant social media updates can make you more worried. If it is affecting you, try to limit the time you spend watching, reading, or listening to media coverage of the outbreak. It may help to only check the news at set times or limiting to a couple of checks a day.

    Get the facts: Gather high-quality information that will help you to accurately determine your own or other people’s risk of contracting coronavirus (COVID-19) so that you can take reasonable precautions. Find a credible source you can trust such as GOV.UK, or the NHS website, and fact check information that you get from newsfeeds, social media or from other people.

    Think about how possibly inaccurate information could affect others too. Try not to share information without fact-checking against credible sources.

    Think about your new daily routine: Life is changing for us all for a while. Whether you are staying at home or social distancing, you are likely to see some disruption to your normal routine.

    Think about how you can adapt and create positive new routines – try to engage in useful activities (such as cleaning, cooking or exercise) or meaningful activities (such as reading or calling a friend). You might find it helpful to write a plan for your day or your week.

    Do things you enjoy: When you are anxious, lonely or low you may do things that you usually enjoy less often, or not at all. Focussing on your favourite hobby, learning something new or simply taking time to relax indoors should give you some relief from anxious thoughts and feelings and can boost your mood.

    If you can’t do the things you normally enjoy because you are staying at home, try to think about how you could adapt them, or try something new. There are lots of free tutorials and courses online and people are coming up with innovative online solutions like online pub quizzes and streamed live music concerts.

    Set goals: Setting goals and achieving them gives a sense of control and purpose – think about things you want or need to do that you can still do at home. It could be watching a film, reading a book or learning something online.

    Keep your mind active: Read, write, play games, do crossword puzzles, sudokus, jigsaws or drawing and painting. Find something that works for you.

    Take time to relax and focus on the present: This can help with difficult emotions, worries about the future, and can improve wellbeing. Relaxation techniques can also help some people to deal with feelings of anxiety. For useful resources see Every Mind Matters and NHS’ mindfulness page.

    If you can, once a day get outside, or bring nature in: Spending time in green spaces can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing. If you can’t get outside much you can try to still get these positive effects by spending time with the windows open to let in fresh air, arranging space to sit and see a nice view (if possible) and get some natural sunlight, or get out into the garden if you can.

    Remember that social distancing guidelines enable you to go outside to exercise once a day as long as you keep 2 metres apart from others who are not members of your household group.

    Staying at home

    Recent guidance is clear about the need for people to stay at home. If you are feeling anxious it might help to think about potential challenges and make a plan for them.

    Practical issues

    Supplies: Think about how you can get any supplies you need – either from a neighbour, family friends or a delivery service so you don’t worry about running out. Try to pick healthy food, especially as you might not get as much exercise as normal.

    Financial concerns: You may be worried about work and money if you have to stay home – these issues can have a big impact on your mental health. For guidance on what your rights are at work, what benefits you are entitled and what further support is available please see our guidance for employees or advice from citizens advice or the National Debt line.

    If you care for other people: You may be worried about how to ensure care for those who rely on you – either your dependants at home or others that you regularly visit. Let your local authority know if you provide care, or support someone you don’t live with. Further advice on creating a contingency plan is available from Carers UK.

    If you are being treated or taking medication for existing conditions

    Continue accessing treatment and support where possible: Let relevant services know that you are staying at home, and work out how to continue receiving support during this time:

  • ask about having appointments by phone, text or online. For example, this could be with your counsellor, therapist or support worker, nurse, care worker or befriender

  • if you use care services that will be affected by staying at home, you should let your local authority and care provider know so alternative arrangements can be put in place

  • make it clear if any support is still needed. Tell them that alternative arrangements are required if any of the usual support can’t continue. This may include things like carers visiting, day centre sessions, or friends and family coming over to help

  • Keep taking your medication: You might be able to order repeat prescriptions by phone, or online using an app or website if your doctor’s surgery offers this.

  • ask your pharmacy about getting your medication delivered or think about who you could ask to collect it for you. The NHS website has more information about getting prescriptions for someone else and checking if you have to pay for prescriptions

  • continue to order your repeat prescriptions in your usual timeframe. There is no need to order for a longer duration or larger quantities

  • your GP practice (or clinical team) may move your prescriptions to repeat dispensing arrangements so you only have to contact your pharmacy to get a repeat of your medicine rather than your practice

  • be careful about buying medication online. You should only buy from registered pharmacies. You can check if a pharmacy is registered on the General Pharmaceutical Council website

  • you can contact NHS 111 in England if you’re worried about accessing medication

  • Where to get further support

    Managing physical symptoms that are triggered by stress and anxiety

    It is quite common to experience short-lived physical symptoms when your mood is low or anxious, for example:

  • faster, irregular or more noticeable heartbeat
  • feeling lightheaded and dizzy
  • headaches
  • chest pains or loss of appetite
  • It can be difficult to know what is causing these symptoms, but often people who experience them due to stress, anxiety or low mood find that they get worse when they focus on them. See advice from the NHS on managing the physical symptoms.

    If you are concerned about your physical symptoms, then do contact NHS 111 online.

    For advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) and any symptoms see the NHS website.

    If you are experiencing stress, feelings of anxiety or low mood, you can use the NHS mental health and wellbeing advice website for self-assessment, audio guides and practical tools Every Mind Matters also provides simple tips and advice to start taking better care of your mental health. If you are still struggling after several weeks and it is affecting your daily life, please contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111.

    In a medical emergency call 999. This is when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk. A mental health emergency should be taken as seriously as a physical health emergency.

    Additional advice for groups with specific mental health needs

    Existing mental health problems

    If you already have a mental health problem, then you may be finding the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak particularly challenging. The advice above should help, but here are a few extra things that you may want to think about. This advice is part of comprehensive guidance provided by Mind.

    Managing difficult feelings or behaviours to do with hygiene, washing or fears of infection

    Some mental health problems can cause difficult feelings or behaviours to do with washing or hygiene. If you experience this, you might find it hard to hear advice about washing your hands.

    It is important to follow government advice on helping to avoid the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), but if you find you are going beyond the recommendations, if this is making you feel stressed or anxious, or if you are having intrusive thoughts here are some things you could try:

  • don’t keep re-reading the same advice if this is unhelpful for you
  • let other people know you’re struggling, for example you could ask them not to discuss the news with you
  • breathing exercises can help you cope and feel more in control. You can find a simple breathing exercise on the NHS website and Mind’s pages on relaxation have some relaxation tips and exercises you can try
  • set limits, like washing your hands for the recommended 20 seconds
  • plan something to do after washing your hands, which could help distract you and change your focus
  • it could also help to read some of Mind’s tips in their information on obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Speaking to your mental health team

    If you are already receiving mental health care, contact your mental health team to discuss how care will continue, and to update safety/care plans.

    Managing panic and anxiety

    If you have panic attacks or flashbacks, it might help to plan a ‘safe space’ in your home that you’ll go to.

    You can also find ways to comfort yourself if you’re feeling anxious. For example, Mind has games and puzzles you can use to distract yourself, and breathing exercises which may help.

    Managing feelings of being trapped or claustrophobia

    You are probably spending more time than usual at home so try to get outside if you can, once a day. You could also open the windows to let in fresh air, find a place to sit with a view outside, or sit on your doorstep or in your garden if you have one. It can also help to regularly change the rooms you spend time in (if possible). This can help to give you a sense of space.

    If you are reducing your drinking significantly

    If you are reducing your drinking, remember it can be dangerous to stop too quickly without proper support. If you have physical withdrawal symptoms (like shaking, sweating or feeling anxious until you have your first drink of the day) you should seek medical advice. For further advice available in your area (including remote services) see NHS advice.

    People with a learning disability

    You may be finding the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak stressful. You may be worried about changes that might happen because of it, including having to stay at home. You may also be worried about your family or those close to you.

    Public Health England has easy read guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19) and how it may affect you. There is also other information available about coronavirus (COVID-19) from Mencap and how to manage difficult feelings you are having.

    There are ways you can take care of yourself and prevent spreading the virus:

  • as you are asked to now stay at home you should keep in touch with people you trust (like friends, family and employer) over the phone or internet - follow the advice from the stay at home and social distancing guidance
  • there may also be self-advocacy groups in your area offering more support online or by phone - you can ask your families or carers for help to search for these groups
  • it is also important to get information about coronavirus (COVID-19) only from places you can trust, such as the NHS website
  • While it is important to be aware of coronavirus (COVID-19), it is important not to forget about any other health conditions you might have. Make sure you take any medication you have been prescribed, keep any hospital appointments you have (unless you have been told otherwise by the hospital) and tell people if you can’t attend appointments.

    Autistic people

    You may be finding the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak stressful and be worried about getting the virus or changes that might happen because of it, including having to stay at home. There are ways you can take care of yourself and prevent spreading the virus:

    Understand what is happening

    Keep up to date with information about Coronavirus (COVID-19) from sources you can trust, such as the NHS website.

    Help to stop the virus from spreading

    There are 4 easy steps you can take to reduce the risk of getting coronavirus or spreading it to others:

  • wash hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water
  • use a tissue for coughs and sneezes and bin it
  • avoid touching your face, including your mouth and eyes
  • get up to date information about staying at home or what to do if you feel unwell on the NHS 111 website. If you are unsure about your symptoms speak to someone you trust about them, like a support worker.
  • Plan to keep mentally well

    Do the things you would usually do to keep well, like eating food you enjoy and taking exercise, once a day outside if you can. If you have support from others, plan with them how you can remain well and relaxed. There are also other things you can do to help to manage your emotions if you feel you are losing control, such as:

  • keeping a diary
  • using apps like Brain in Hand
  • learning relaxation techniques
  • creating a plan with your carer for when you feeling anxiety
  • Get help if you are struggling

    Hearing about coronavirus (COVID-19), and the changes it causes in your daily life, might make you feel like you don’t have control, or make you worried or scared about your health. These feelings are common. Try to speak to someone you trust such as a friend, family member or supporter.

    If you do become unwell and need medical treatment, share your hospital passport or autism diagnosis so staff know the best way to support you.

    If you are still feeling worried and want more help. You can call the Autism Helpline on 0808 800 4104.

    Older people

    Government guidance is that older people are at increased risk of severe illness and need to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures and staying at home. Given this, it is natural for older people, particularly those with pre-existing medical conditions, to feel concerned or affected by changes you have to make to your daily life. The following suggestions may help with any difficult feelings and look after your mental health:

    Stay connected

    Draw on support you might have through your friends, family and other networks. Try to stay in touch with those around you, this might be over the phone, by post, or online. If you have been advised to stay at home, let people know how you would like to stay in touch and build that into your routine.

    Get practical help

    If you need help, for example with shopping or running errands, ask for it and let those around you know what they can do. If you need help but you’re not sure who to contact, Age UK runs an advice line (0800 678 1602 – lines are open every day 8am-7pm) that can put you in touch with local services.

    People living with dementia

    You may feel concerned about coronavirus how it could affect you. Alzheimer’s Society have published information on coronavirus for people affected by dementia.

    If you’d like to connect and talk with other people affected by dementia, you can visit the Alzheimer’s Society online community Talking Point.

    A range of information on information on dementia is also available from Alzheimer’s Research UK

    If you are still feeling worried and want more help you can call the Alzheimer’s Society Helpline on 0300 222 11 22

    You can also speak to a dementia specialist Admiral Nurse on Dementia UK’s Helpline, on 0800 888 6687.

    Dealing with a mental health crisis or emergency

    You may find that the added stress of the current situation could have a big impact on your mental health. In some cases, you may feel that you are having a mental health crisis as you no longer feel able to cope or be in control of your situation.

    You may: feel great emotional distress or anxiety, feel that you cannot cope with day-to-day life or work, think about self-harm or even suicide, or experience or hear voices (hallucinations).

    If this sort of situation happens, you should get immediate expert assessment and advice to identify the best course of action:

  • If you have already been given a Crisis Line number from a health professional, please call it.

  • If you’re under the care of a mental health team and have a specific care plan that states who to contact when you need urgent care, follow this plan.

  • Mind also provides information about how to plan for a crisis.

  • Samaritans has a free to call service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, if you want to talk to someone in confidence. Call them on 116 123.

  • Find local crisis support services near you that can support you.

  • You can contact NHS 111 if you need urgent care but it’s not life threatening.

  • In in a medical emergency call 999 if you are seriously ill or injured and your life is at risk. A mental health emergency should be taken as seriously as a physical health emergency.

  • See further advice from the NHS on dealing with a mental health crisis.

    You know what strategies have helped in the past, so use them again now. The National Autistic Society guidance on managing anxiety might also be helpful.

    In in a medical emergency call 999 if you are seriously ill or injured and your life is at risk. A mental health emergency should be taken as seriously as a physical health emergency.

See further advice from the NHS on dealing with a mental health crisis.


***Full guidance on staying at home and away from others***

The single most important action we can all take, in fighting coronavirus, is to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives.

NEW RULES ON STAYING AT HOME AND AWAY FROM OTHERS

The single most important action we can all take, in fighting coronavirus, is to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives.

When we reduce our day-to-day contact with other people, we will reduce the spread of the infection. That is why the government is now (23 March 2020) introducing three new measures.

1. Requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes

2. Closing non-essential shops and community spaces

3. Stopping all gatherings of more than two people in public

Every citizen must comply with these new measures. The relevant authorities, including the police, will be given the powers to enforce them – including through fines and dispersing gatherings. These measures are effective immediately. The Government will look again at these measures in three weeks, and relax them if the evidence shows this is possible.

1. STAYING AT HOME

You should only leave the house for one of four reasons.

● Shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible.

● One form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household.

● Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.

● Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.

These four reasons are exceptions - even when doing these activities, you should be minimising time spent outside of the home and ensuring you are 2 metres apart from anyone outside of your household. These measures must be followed by everyone. Separate advice is available for individuals or households who are isolating, and for the most vulnerable who need to be shielded. If you work in a critical sector outlined in this guidance, or your child has been identified as vulnerable, you can continue to take your children to school. Where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes

2. CLOSING NON-ESSENTIAL SHOPS AND PUBLIC SPACES

Last week, the Government ordered certain businesses - including pubs, cinemas and theatres - to close. The Government is now extending this requirement to a further set of businesses and other venues, including:

● all non-essential retail stores - this will include clothing and electronics stores; hair, beauty and nail salons; and outdoor and indoor markets, excluding food markets.

● libraries, community centres, and youth centres.

● indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as bowling alleys, arcades and soft play facilities.

● communal places within parks, such as playgrounds, sports courts and outdoor gyms.

● places of worship, except for funerals attended by immediate families.

● hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, caravan parks, and boarding houses for commercial/leisure use (excluding permanent residents and key workers). More detailed information can be found here, including a full list of those businesses and other venues that must close. Businesses and other venues not on this list may remain open.

3. STOPPING PUBLIC GATHERINGS

To make sure people are staying at home and apart from each other, the Government is also stopping all public gatherings of more than two people. There are only two exceptions to this rule:

● where the gathering is of a group of people who live together - this means that a parent can, for example, take their children to the shops if there is no option to leave them at home.

● where the gathering is essential for work purposes - but workers should be trying to minimise all meetings and other gatherings in the workplace. In addition, the Government is stopping social events, including weddings, baptisms and other religious ceremonies. This will exclude funerals, which can be attended by immediate family.

DELIVERING THESE NEW MEASURES

These measures will reduce our day to day contact with other people. They are a vital part of our efforts to reduce the rate of transmission of coronavirus. Every citizen is instructed to comply with these new measures. The Government will therefore be ensuring the police and other relevant authorities have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings where people do not comply. They will initially last for the three weeks from 23 March, at which point the Government will look at them again and relax them if the evidence shows this is possible.

 

Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others?utm_source=a7405750-72ea-401e-8f39-0f5b6fa1eaca&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

***Public Health England Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update***

Please see the Public Health England update below for 26 March 2020:

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has confirmed that, as of 9am on 26 March 2020, a total of 104,866 people have been tested, of which 93,208 were confirmed negative and 11,658 were confirmed positive. As of 5pm on 25 March 2020, 578 patients in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) have died. DHSC will publish updated data on this page on a daily basis each afternoon until further notice. Please be aware that tests are now being prioritised for those who require hospital care for pneumonia or acute respiratory illness – while continuing to investigate outbreaks, ie where several cases are connected, especially in a particular setting such as a care home. This change is being reflected in the surveillance data we report which will monitor, support and inform the public health actions we are taking while no longer providing a running commentary of individual cases, or individual deaths.

The Chancellor has outlined measures to support the self-employed. They will be paid 80% of profits, up to £2,500 a month if affected by the coronavirus outbreak. HM Treasury guidance on support for those affected by coronavirus has also been updated.

Latest PHE guidance can be found here.

  • Any further guidance to support schools and educational settings remaining open for children of key workers will be published here.

DfE has set up a helpline offering guidance for anyone with education related questions.

  • Follow us on Twitter: @PHE_SouthEast

Public Health England and Kent County Council statement on confirmed COVID-19 case in Kent

Specialists from Public Health England (PHE) are working with Kent County Council and NHS colleagues following a confirmed case of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the county.

The case is now in a treatment centre in London. Dr James Mapstone, Acting Regional Director, Public Health England South of England, said: “Public Health England is contacting people who had close contact with one of the latest confirmed cases of COVID-19. The case is a resident of Kent and had recently travelled to Italy. Close contacts will be given health advice about symptoms and emergency contact details to use if they become unwell in the 14 days after contact with the confirmed case. This tried and tested method will ensure we are able to minimise any risk to them and the wider public.”

Kent County Council’s Director of Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark said: “I’d like to reassure people that the risk to the general public remains low and we are working with health colleagues to do everything we can to stop the virus spreading and ensure the people of Kent are protected.

“If you have not been contacted by Public Health England as a close contact of the confirmed case you do not need to take any action at this time.”

Health and local authorities are appealing for people to follow national Government guidance to prevent further spread of the illness and limit the numbers affected.

This guidance includes taking basic hygiene precautions as the best way of significantly reducing the chances of spreading any virus: sneeze or cough into a tissue, bin it, wash your hands frequently and don’t touch your face unless you’ve just washed your hands.

Current evidence indicates that most cases appear to be mild, with patients experiencing flu-like symptoms. Older residents or those with weakened immune systems or long-term conditions may experience more severe symptoms.

Andrew Scott-Clark added: “These are the same simple steps we all should be taking to avoid other illnesses such as flu which is also prevalent during the winter and it is important that residents help protect themselves and others.

“If you have recently travelled to an affected area or been in contact with someone who has, and you think you have symptoms associated with the coronavirus, you should not go to A&E or your doctor but self-isolate yourself at home and ring NHS 111 which has an online coronavirus service that can tell if you need medical help and advise you what to do.”

The symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are:

a cough

a high temperature

shortness of breath

Self-isolation means you should:

stay at home

not go to work, school or public places

not use public transport or taxis

ask friends, family members or delivery services to do errands for you

try to avoid visitors to your home – it's OK for friends, family or delivery drivers to drop off food

You may need to do this for up to 14 days to help reduce the possible spread of infection. For more information on the symptoms and steps to take, go to www.nhs.uk/coronavirus

For the latest advice on travellers returning from affected areas, plus guidance to schools and care homes, visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Details on testing are published daily at 2pm and includes a breakdown of negative and positive tests https://www.gov.uk/guidance/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-information-for-the-public

This is the link to a BBC News online article - Coronavirus: Advice for People with Health Conditions - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-51703892

 

Westgate-on-Sea Town Council Coronavirus Updates

NALC Chief executive's bulletin - Coronavirus and cybersecurity

Microshade VSM works in close co-operation with cybersecurity experts to ensure the safety of local (parish and town) councils' data. We wish to share this information with the sector that has given to us.

Since February 2020, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has identified 21 reports of fraud where coronavirus was mentioned, with victim losses totalling over £800k. It's expected that reporting numbers will rise as the virus continues to spread across the world.

What are the risks?

The two most common risks are:

  • Viruses — These are malicious software programmes loaded onto the user's computer without their knowledge and performs malicious actions, leading to corruption of data/files, or even altogether disabling the computer.
  • Phishing — This is the fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and bank details by disguising oneself as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.

Of the reported coronavirus related fraud cases, ten of these reports were made by victims that attempted to purchase protective face masks from fraudulent sellers. Fraudsters are also sending out coronavirus-themed phishing emails in an attempt to trick people into opening malicious attachments or revealing sensitive personal and financial details.

Some of the tactics we've identified from victim reports include fraudsters purporting to be from research organisation's affiliated with the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) contacting potential victims over email. They claim to be able to provide the recipient with a list of coronavirus infected people in their area. To access this information, the victim needs to click on a link which takes them to a malicious website or requested to make a payment in Bitcoin.

What should I do next?

  • Watch out for scam messages — Don't click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails, and never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for personal or financial details,
  • Protect devices from the latest threats — Always install the latest software and app updates to protect devices from the latest threats. The National Society for Cyber Security provides useful information on how to update your devices.
  • Shopping online — If you're making a purchase from a company or person you don't know and trust, carry out some research first and ask a friend or colleague for advice before completing the purchase. If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one, as most major credit card providers insure online purchases. Action Fraud, the UK's national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, has produced advice on how to shop online safely.

NALC and Microshade VSM are in partnership to support local councils of all sizes to improve their cybersecurity.

AUTHOR: STUART WILBUR, MICROSHADE VSM

***PHE South East Coronavirus (COVID-19) links***
 

Number of UK cases and latest figures - updated at 2pm every day:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public#number-of-cases

 

Dashboard showing reported cases of coronavirus in the UK by upper tier local authority (mobile and desktop versions):

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-track-coronavirus-cases

 

Key source of information for the public:
www.nhs.uk/coronavirus


FAQ for the public:
https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2020/01/23/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-what-you-need-to-know/ 

 

Useful overview of local and global situation, including updated daily case numbers:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public

 

Countries and areas affected and specific advice (including maps):

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-specified-countries-and-areas

 

Guidance

 

Stay at home: guidance for people with confirmed or possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-people-with-confirmed-or-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection

 

Guidance for educational settings:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19

 

Guidance for residential care, supported living and home care guidance:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-residential-care-supported-living-and-home-care-guidance

 

Guidance for employers and businesses on providing advice to staff:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19

Guidance for prisons and other prescribed places of detention:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-prisons-and-other-prescribed-places-of-detention-guidance

 

Guidance for shipping and sea ports:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-shipping-and-sea-ports-guidance

Guidance for primary care settings:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wn-cov-guidance-for-primary-care

Guidance for those working in the transport sector:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-staff-in-the-transport-sector

Guidance for hostels or day centres for people rough sleeping:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-shipping-and-sea-ports-guidance

 

Resources for universities:

https://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-analysis/Pages/coronavirus.aspx

 

Guidance for boarding schools:

http://www.boarding.org.uk/media/news/article/13449/Coronavirus-disease-COVID-19-guidance-update-as-of-25-2-20

 

Guidance for health professionals:
https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/wuhan-novel-coronavirus

 

Guidance covering decontamination and cleaning of environments in the community:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings

Other resources

Resources available for the public information campaign, incl posters, press ads
https://campaignresources.phe.gov.uk/resources/campaigns/101-novel-coronavirus-/resources.

Blog about contact tracing:
https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2020/02/13/expert-interview-what-is-contact-tracing/

 

Blog about self-isolation:
https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2020/02/20/what-is-self-isolation-and-why-is-it-important/

 

Blog about the five things you can do to protect yourself and your community:

https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2020/03/04/coronavirus-covid-19-5-things-you-can-do-to-protect-yourself-and-your-community/
 

Coronavirus (COVID-19): What is social distancing?

https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2020/03/04/coronavirus-covid-19-what-is-social-distancing/

 

 

Kent County Council is working in close partnership with all organisations to ensure health and social care systems are prepared for further increases in the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, following the announcement of a second case in Kent.

The second person is connected to the first case which was announced on Monday – a man who had returned from Italy.

Following the publication of the national Action Plan, all organisations in Kent and Medway are looking closely at their own business continuity plans and how these can be adapted as the situation develops.

To ensure the health and social care system is prepared to respond to all eventualities, the NHS and local authorities have plans in place to ensure people receive the essential care and support services they need. Plans are flexible ranging from a mild, low impact on services, through to a severe prolonged impact. All social care providers are required to have business continuity plans in place so that in the event of any emergency, services continue for our clients, with emphasis on our most vulnerable people.

Social care staff and providers are also receiving the national Public Health England guidance including information on what to do if someone in the setting has contact with a confirmed case. In these cases, the person affected will be asked to self-isolate and they will be actively followed up by Public health England’s Health Protection team which will also provide advice on cleaning.

KCC is ensuring that schools, children’s centres, libraries and other public community settings including early years, are also being regularly reminded of the national guidelines. We are aware that some schools have taken the decision to self-isolate pupils or teachers, even if they are not showing symptoms, as a precaution but this is a matter for the headteacher.

Director of Public Health for Kent Andrew Scott-Clark says: “The work Kent County Council has been carrying out with Public Health colleagues and Kent Resilience partners means we have very well-developed plans in place to deal with whatever comes next.

“I firmly believe that we should be calm and proportionate in our response. I am asking all Kent residents to keep washing their hands, be aware of personal hygiene and think carefully about the things you can do to minimise the spread, such as catching coughs and sneezes in tissues and then disposing of those tissues. This is the best thing we can all do to slow the spread of the virus.

We anticipate an increase in numbers which is why our services have planned for, and are ready, for this situation.

I’d like to reassure people that the risk to the general public remains low and that we continue to work with health colleagues and partners to do everything we can to stop the virus spreading and ensure the people of Kent are protected.”

At Kent County Council, we are engaging with our own staff and provider services to ensure they are aware of the latest national guidelines at www.phe.gov/uk/coronavirus. We would like to reassure people that the risk to the wider public remains low and you can only catch it if you have been close to someone who has the virus.

The national guidance stresses that if you have travelled to an affected area recently, or have been in close contact with someone who has, and you think you may have symptoms, the advice is to self-isolate at home, avoid public transport and call NHS 111 for the next steps or use the online NHS 111 service at https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19.

You can find more information at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus Do not go to hospital or your doctor’s surgery.

We have been advised that there is no need to do anything differently in any care setting at present. If any staff do become infected through travel to affected countries, they will be contacted by the local Health Protection Team to take them through a risk assessment for your particular setting. Health Protection Teams are part of Public Health England and will provide advice and guidance on infectious disease and non-infectious environmental hazards, manage and control outbreaks of infectious disease in the community and are a source of expert advice on new infections.

The main message remains that all residents and staff should consider basic hygiene advice to help prevent the spread of coronavirus and other infections such as flu.

 

Guidance to schools https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19

 

Guidance to social or community care and residential settings https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-social-or-community-care-and-residential-settings-on-covid-19

 

Guidance to employers and businesses https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19