Following many areas of the UK being placed in different tiers as part of the government’s latest attack on Covid-19, shielding letters have been sent out to people who live with clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) health conditions.
In June 2020, a poll by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that over a third of people shielding felt that their mental health was negatively impacted by the regulations imposed by the government.
Earlier in the year, a whopping 2.2 million people were deemed clinically extremely vulnerable, and 95% of those stuck rigidly to the rules, keeping themselves within their properties and minimising contact with anyone from outside of their household unless absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, in keeping themselves physically safe, emotions linked with loneliness and being somewhat trapped are bound to have an impact.
In July 2020, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) published a study detailing that a 64% of the over 3000 participants revealed they had suffered from symptoms of depression and 57% symptoms of anxiety.
With the people from the study in addition to around 785,000 CEV people in the UK struggling with their mental health, they have attempted to improve the situation in many ways.
Google trends reveals that the popularity of many hobbies have changed throughout the past few months in the UK.
For some, exercising their brain power and solving cryptic clues through doing crosswords has taken their fancy. This interest peaked right at the beginning of the pandemic changing life for the masses in Great Britain.
For others, getting busy with their hands has helped with knitting, sewing and crochet, with all three proving to be far more popular than usual in March and April of 2020.
With DIY stores being granted the ability to remain open throughout the second lockdown in the United Kingdom and even within those areas placed into Tier 4, people have finally got round to doing jobs they’ve had on their to-do list for months, even years.
Whether it’s purchasing stainless steel hardware or painting supplies, people in the UK have definitely developed a love for home improvement. ONS revealed that June’s DIY store sales were up 14 per cent compared with the previous month. It seems likely that this trend will continue.
Decreased activity levels have led to inevitable weight gain and loss of fitness levels. However, a growing number of exercise classes have been moved online to boost Brits’ chances of beating the bulge. From body combat to martial arts, instructors from both the UK and beyond are on hand to help. Yahoo reports a massive 5,800% increase in home gym equipment bought in the UK during the pandemic. Endorphins released as a result of increased activity levels can ease mental health concerns.
Joe Wicks, known as the Body Coach, gained popularity with his daily workouts during the first lockdown. He was nicknamed ‘the nation’s PE teacher’ with many schools advising their students to follow his regime. So popular were his classes and grateful for his efforts to keep the nation moving, the Queen awarded him an MBE in her birthday honours.
In terms of loneliness, many Brits have resorted to online communication in an effort to stay in touch with loved ones. Platforms, such as Zoom, have seen a huge increase in users. According to statista.com, towards the end of November, the peak number of users in just one day in the UK hit 1.7 million. Of course, everyone recognises that it is not a substitute for actual face-to-face contact. However, it helps to keep people safe and healthy.
It is also essential to remember that many people already suffered from poor mental health prior to the pandemic. Access to support groups, face-to-face counselling and exercise classes has diminished, impacting seriously on the welfare of these vulnerable children and adults.
Despite in-person services being severely limited, online access is available to many counsellors and therapies. This diversification of their businesses has resulted in a larger proportion of Brits being able to access support and advice when times are tough or continued help for existing issues.
The BMJ assert that there is no clear picture at present as to whether death by suicide is a more significant problem for Brits because of the Covid-19 pandemic, it advises caution. Give that the ONS reported that 2019 saw a record two-decade high for male suicide with a rate of 16.9 deaths per 100,000 men, the picture in the UK was already bleak. In fact, of all the deaths by suicide in 2019, men accounted for three-quarters of these.