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Thinking Differently

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Talk to us about your Mental Health

02 Jul 2020by lindseyh

The NHS in the Black Country and West Birmingham is encouraging local people to look after their mental health and to reach out if they need support.

Every July, the Samaritans run their ‘Talk to Us’ campaign to promote the services they offer in their communities and share tips on how to be a better listener. This year, the campaign has more poignancy as people are impacted by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and the lockdown restrictions.

Whilst the Samaritans have taken the difficult decision to stop offering face-to-face support in their branches during the lockdown, their free phone line (116 123) is still open 24/7 to help anyone who needs someone to listen without judgement or pressure.

Dr Ian Sykes, local GP and clinical chair of NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “It’s really important to talk about how you’re feeling, whether it’s by phone or video call with a friend or family member, a chat with a neighbour over the garden fence, or by using one of the helplines available, such as the Samaritans.

“The NHS is still here for you, so please contact your GP or NHS111 for support if you need it.”

Jonathan Fellows, Independent Chair of the Black Country and West Birmingham STP, said: “In light of the falling numbers of Covid-19 cases, the guidance changed recently to support people who live alone or who are single parents to form a ‘support bubble’ with one other household of any size. Those who are shielding are also advised that from 6 July, they can participate in more activities and gatherings (whilst social distancing) and form a support bubble. Also, to enable people to see their family and friends from Saturday 4 July, two households will be able to meet up in any setting, follow social distancing measures.

“This is great news for those who have been confined to their homes for over three months. However, those identified as clinically extremely vulnerable should continue to remain at home as much as possible, taking particular care to minimise contact with others outside their household and practice good, frequent handwashing.”

There are lots of ways to look after your mental health, such as the NHS’ 5 steps to mental wellbeing. It is possible to practise all of these whilst staying in or close to home: connecting with friends and family, staying active, learning new skills, giving to others, and paying attention to the present moment (mindfulness).

The Samaritans have a webpage with advice if you’re worried about your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak, and a self-help app to track your mood and find practical tips and techniques to look after your emotional health.

There is also a 24/7 helpline available within the Black Country for anyone who feels unable to cope and needs to speak to someone urgently. The helpline is manned by specialist mental health staff who can provide advice, support and signposting which you can access by calling 0345 646 0827.

Alongside the phone line, you can also access psychological support through the Healthy Minds and Talking Therapy services if you are experiencing common problems such as low mood, depression, anxiety and stress.