Mental health support will be offered to people struggling during the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak through new NHS online resources and a £5m grant for mental health charities to boost their services.
The new online resources, announced by mental health minister Nadine Dorries, include practical tips for people while they spend extended periods staying at home.
The guidance, published by Public Health England, recommends maintaining contact with friends digitally and focussing on hobbies, in addition to highlighting the importance of keeping a regular routine and sleeping pattern.
Parents and carers will also receive advice for helping children and young people manage stress during the outbreak. This includes providing clear information, creating new routines, and encouraging awareness of their own reactions.
The online resource also includes steps that those living with serious mental health problems can take, including seeking support from their mental health teams.
The guidelines, which were developed in partnership with mental health charities and signed off by the NHS, were announced alongside a £5m grant for charities to expand their support services.
The grant will be administered by mental health charity Mind to allow charitable organisations to run extra services, such as telephone and online support for those people who are most isolated.
Meanwhile, the Government said it and NHS England were working closely with mental health trusts to ensure patients have access to services – through digital channels where possible – and that providers would be setting up 24/7 helplines.
PHE has also updated its Every Mind Matters platform with specific advice on maintaining good mental wellbeing during the outbreak.
Ms Dorries, who tested positive for Covid-19 in March, said: ‘When I discovered I had coronavirus I felt anxious and scared.
‘For those who already suffer with anxiety or other mental health issues this may present new and difficult challenges.
‘It’s imperative that we stay home if we are to beat coronavirus and save lives. I know how important it is that people have support to look after their mental health and this guidance will be of huge value.’
PHE medical director Yvonne Doyle said: ‘We should continue to check up on friends, family and neighbours by phone or online and pursue the activities we are able to do from home and in line with guidance.
‘By adopting a new routine, setting goals, eating healthily and maintaining physical activity, we can stay in good mental health today and tomorrow.’