Infectious disease outbreaks like coronavirus (COVID-19), can be worrying. This can impact your mental health, but there are many things you can do to mind your mental health during times like this, according to the Health Service Executive (HSE).
How your mental health might be affected
Some people might find the spread of the coronavirus more worrying than others. The HSE has asked those worrying to remember that medical, scientific and public health experts are working hard to contain the virus.
Most people’s lives will change in some way over a period of days, weeks or months. But in time, it will pass.
You may notice some of the following:
- Increased anxiety;
- Feeling stressed;
- Finding yourself excessively checking for symptoms, in yourself, or others;
- Becoming irritable more easily;
- Feeling insecure or unsettled;
- Fearing that normal aches and pains might be the virus;
- Having trouble sleeping;
- Feeling helpless or a lack of control;
- Having irrational thoughts.
Keeping a realistic perspective of the situation based on facts is important. Here are some ways the HSE say you can do this:
- Stay informed but set limits for news and social media;
- Keep up healthy routines such as exercise, sleep, a balanced diet, reading etc.;
- Stay connected with others.
Talking to children and young people
Health experts recommend giving children and young people the time and space to talk about the outbreak. Share the facts with them in a way that suits their age and temperament, without causing alarm.
They suggest talking to your children about coronavirus but try to limit their exposure to news and social media. This is especially important for older children who may be spending more time online now. It may be causing anxiety.
Try to anticipate distress and support each other
The HSE outlined that it is understandable to feel vulnerable or overwhelmed when reading or hearing news about the outbreak.
“Acknowledge these feelings. Remind yourself and others to look after your physical and mental health. If you smoke or drink, try to avoid doing this any more than usual. It won’t help in the long-term.”
Don’t make assumptions
The HSE ask that we don’t judge people or make assumptions about who is responsible for the spread of the disease. They say the coronavirus can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, nationality or ethnicity. “We are all in this together.”
Online and phone supports
If you’re feeling anxious or depressed during this pandemic, there are many online mental health resources and phone services that can help. However, face-to-face interaction may be limited during this period.