What effect is lockdown 3 having on our mental health?
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
If you've been experiencing poor mental health for the first time in your life during the third coronavirus lockdown, you're not alone.
After nearly a year of isolating measures to restrict Covid-19 infections, more people in Suffolk are suffering from mild to moderate mental health than ever before.
Suffolk Mind regularly conducts surveys to find out how many people in the county are struggling to meet their emotional needs.
Since the first lockdown, that number has doubled — showing half the population are now suffering from poor mental wellbeing.
The monotony of constant restrictions is wearing people down and even those who have managed to retain their jobs, support networks and health can be affected.
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Jon Neal, chief executive of the charity, said the pandemic has stopped people from being able to meet their emotional needs - as they often rely heavily on their community, relationships and work life to stay mentally healthy.
He said: "A lot of people don't know how to meet their emotional needs and didn't realise they were being met before.
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"People may still have jobs, but are feeling down, stressed, irritable and it is important to understand that it's okay to feel that way.
"Telling yourself that others are worse off doesn't help to make you feel better.
"A lot of people are experiencing mild mental health for the first time and it doesn't always come from financial or family struggles — we all need our emotional needs met, no matter the circumstance."
As well as losing many enjoyable aspects of life, the coronavirus crisis has taken away a sense of control about the future.
Despite the newly-approved vaccines showing a light at the end of the tunnel, there are still several long months of heavy restrictions to go before freedom is returned.
In the meantime, it is unknown whether schools will be allowed to return, the hospitality industry will be allowed to open or when and how restrictions might be eased.
Mr Neal said although we can't focus on the future right now, there are still many aspects of life we can control.
He recommends writing down those factors such as sleep, nutrition, exercise and screen time.
Anyone suffering from mental health problems can find support on the Suffolk Mind website.