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Health Director blogs: "Dealing with lockdown loneliness? Support is out there"

A message from Julie Webster, Wirral’s Director of Public Health.

Over the last few months, in our efforts to stay safe and save lives, our usual ways of seeing family, friends or just familiar faces have been put on pause. One of the feelings many of us may have experienced during this time is loneliness.

Loneliness is often a scary word, sometimes with stigma attached – but, it’s a very common feeling that many of us experience from time to time. But whether it’s mild or severe, the impact of long-term loneliness on mental health can be hard to manage.

Now, more than ever, it is so important to check in with yourself and look after your mental wellbeing. So, whether you are working from home, have been furloughed, on the frontline, self-isolating, or juggling little ones and home schooling, there are things you can to do keep well, emotionally as well as physically.

  1. Connect with loved ones or familiar faces – whether it’s a video call, phone or text exchange, connecting with others can improve your wellbeing and reduce feelings of loneliness or isolation.
  2. Walk with it – If you are able, consider going for short walks in public places (while keeping a safe distance from people you do not live with).
  3. Join an online group or class that focuses on something you enjoy – that could be anything from an online exercise class, book club etc.
  4. Get your Mind Plan – visit the NHS Every Mind matters website and answer five questions in an interactive quiz to get top tips and advice for you, tailored for the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
  5. Remember – it’s not just you. All of us, at some point or other during this coronavirus pandemic, will have felt or still feel cut off from the outside world.

The last few months have been challenging for most of us, and sometimes lonely. But it’s important to remember two things. One, your commitment to the Government's guidance, while isolating at times, has helped to keep many of Wirral’s most vulnerable safe and well. Two, this time will pass.

If you are dealing with loneliness and isolation, there are people you can talk to for support and guidance.

The following advice lines and opening times may be of use: 

  • Samaritans, open 24/7: 116 123. 
  • CALM helpline (support for men), 5pm – midnight every day: 0800 58 58 58. 
  • Silver Line (support for over 65s), open 24/7: 0800 470 8090. 
  • Anxiety UK Helpline, weekdays 9.30am - 5.30pm: 0344 477 5774. 
  • Papyrus (specialist organisation for preventing Young People's suicide), weekdays 10am-10pm, weekends 2pm-10pm: 0800 068 4141. 
  • For support following suicide by a loved one, visit listening-ear.co.uk/amparo
  • Or visit the Wirral InfoBank for links to local support and guidance: www.wirralinfobank.co.uk/

And please remember:

  • In an emergency, always dial 999. 
  • In a non-emergency, you can call 111 or, if you’re under 18, dial the CAMHS Central Advice and Duty Line 0151 488 8453. 

Thanks for reading and please, take care.

Julie.