Today I attended the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Greater Manchester Patient Safety Translational Research Centre Symposium on Mental Health during COVID-19 (whew, that is a mouthful!). I found it particularly helpful hearing how self harm and suicide needs have changed during the pandemic. Now we are almost halfway through our own From Harm to Hope Self Harm Conference, it could not be a more pertinent time to reflect on how people are doing, 12 months into a global pandemic.
In short, things could be both better and worse.
Looking back on the last year, we are not seeing the rise in suicides that some expected. But Prof Louis Appleby reminded us that although these findings are clear, we must remain cautious. The true extent of the pandemic’s influence on mental health is perhaps yet to be seen. What we do know is that the impact of COVID-19 on communities has not been uniform. As we come out of lockdown, we need to ask the nuanced question of ‘who has felt the greatest impact?’ rather than ‘what has the impact been?’.
Looking ahead to lockdown restrictions lifting, bear in mind that no matter how you have individually felt, coped, and managed through this pandemic, we are all completely different. The way we feel about going ‘back to normal’ is likely to be varied. Some people are feeling relieved, excited, and optimistic about the country ‘re-opening’. Others, (myself included), are more reserved, anxious and cautious (and a little bit knackered!)
As we move into the next few months, be kind to yourselves. Whether or not you have lived experience of mental ill-health, self harm or suicide crisis, you may find yourself struggling to settle into the so-called ‘new normal’. It might not be easy, but we can get through it together.
Remember that there is no right or wrong way to respond to living through a global pandemic.
As ever, reach out if you need us. We’re here.
Training Service Manager (Sales) and Specialist Trainer
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