Article From: https://www.royalgazette.com/health/news/article/20221011/minister-urges-people-to-look-after-their-mental-health/
Mental health services will see a boost in funding, the health minister assured yesterday.
Kim Wilson said that the cash injection, which was announced in July as part of a $15 million relief package, would help to meet the demand for more treatment as the psychological effects of the Covid-19 pandemic become long term.
Ms Wilson said: “In Bermuda, many client presentations to Community Mental Health Services have been related to the pandemic, with anxiety or depression due to job loss or economic instability a factor.
“The thread of the impact of the coronavirus, whether health-related, economic or simply exhaustion due to the length of the pandemic, is woven into many mental health reviews.”
The Bermuda Hospitals Board commissioned questions in September’s Bermuda Omnibus survey.
The results showed more residents between 18 and 35 rated their mental health as being worse since the pandemic than those in older age groups. Thirty-two residents in this age group deemed their mental health somewhat worse or much worse than before the pandemic, compared with 21 people in the 36-64 year category and 17 in the over-65 group. In total 22 per cent of survey respondents felt their mental health had declined since the pandemic.
“The survey result is indicative of what many parents have found anecdotally with their college-aged children,” said BHB chief of psychiatry Anna Neilson-Williams.
“While each person and their set of circumstances are unique, the impact of lockdowns in not being able to socialise or receive education in a more typical format, combined with feeling imprisoned and isolated, has caused increased depression and anxiety for many. Experiencing the rapidity of how life across the world was forced to change also caused fear, anxiety and depression, particularly in young adults.
“It is important and encouraging to note that the vast majority of survey respondents (59 per cent) felt their mental health had not significantly changed since the pandemic,” said Dr Neilson-Williams. “But for anyone experiencing difficulties, we can help.”
Respondents were also asked to list factors that prevented them from prioritising their mental health. The majority (36 per cent) said nothing was stopping them. Twenty-eight per cent said work, 10 per cent listed money/finances or not enough time, while 9 per cent said caring for others/family was the reason.
“We encourage everyone in the community to pause and consider their mental health, and to actively care for it in the same way that we take care of our physical health,” said Dr Neilson-Williams.
“Exercise can positively impact your mental health, and activities like walking and swimming are free. We live on such a beautiful island, experiencing nature can be very restorative and calming, thus just getting outside can help. Sixty per cent, the overwhelming majority, of those surveyed, said it’s what they do to improve their mental health.”
She added: “A part of ‘living safely with Covid’ involves adjusting to a new normal.
“Yes, the coronavirus is still here in our community. However, preventive care is essential, and it is critical that we resume good health routines.”
Ms Wilson, speaking on World Mental Health Day yesterday, stressed it was important for the public to care for their own mental health, adding that there was “no health without mental health”.
Ms Wilson reminded the public to be gentle with themselves should they feel their mental health being challenged.
She said to take a break from negative news to ease the stress on the mind, and instead to reconnect with personal interests to re-establish a sense of normalcy.
Ms Wilson also encouraged people to take care of their physical health during times of stress and to perform activities that included exercise, eating a healthy diet, prioritising sleep and avoiding drugs and alcohol.
“Take a look around. We are living on an island of exceptional beauty. Absorbing the vibrant colours of the ocean and getting out into nature can be very restorative for mental health.
“Reflecting on the journey we have been on, let us be kinder to ourselves and to one another. It can positively impact our own mental health.”
• Be gentle with yourself. We have been living through unprecedented times, and there is no right way to respond to the stressors we have been facing. Experiencing a degree of anxiety is normal.
• Take a break from the news. We can sometimes feel bombarded by negative news and images, so disconnecting and doing something else can be a good distraction.
• Reconnect with previous interests to instil a degree of normalcy.
• Take care of yourself. Try to eat a balanced healthy diet, exercise, lessen your alcohol intake, and avoid alcohol and other substances as a ‘go-to’ if feeling stressed.
• Prioritise sleep.
• Try to maintain connections with others — family and friends.
• Focus on what you can control instead of worrying excessively over things you cannot control. And avoid spending too much time on social media.
• Practising mindfulness can be beneficial. This can be a simple addition to your day.
• Practise gratitude. Pause and reflect on what we remain grateful for along with reminding ourselves what might be going well, despite the pandemic.
• Take things at your own pace. What works for some may not work for others.
For a directory of health services, including mental health assistance, click here.
• The MWI has a 24-hour Mental Health Crisis Line: (441) 239-1111