Trigger warning: Mental health
Lockdown. We’ve been through it, heard it on the news, newspaper, and radios. It’s the main topic that anyone speaks about, and it seems like it’s never-ending.
The first lockdown was a moment in history no one thought we would ever experience. It helped to bring down the cases and deaths, and all was well in August. We all thought it was an experience of the past and we’d be back to normal in no time.
Wrong. Lockdown 2.0 arose.
The second lockdown was put into place on Thursday the 5th of November, lasting for 4 weeks, causing restaurants, pubs, gyms, and non-essential shops to close. The difference between the first lockdown is that universities, schools, and colleges are able to stay open.
The lockdown overall had drastic results such as; furlough, redundancies, businesses, and declines in mental health.
Venues such as pubs, restaurants, and non-essential shops being forced to close results in a huge negative impact on the owners and employees, as they are unable to gain an income during the lockdown. The government has provided support for businesses during the pandemic and lockdown, which involves loans, grants, and financial support for employee wages. There are many schemes put into place such as the “Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme”, and the “Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)” which are very beneficial to people in need, however, the pandemic has still resulted in negative impacts. Many businesses have been forced to close, resulting in a downfall in companies such as Debenhams and Topshop. The result of this is that an extreme number of jobs have been lost, as around 50 branches are set to close for Debenhams alone, putting around 12,000 employees at risk to lose their jobs.
The Guardian has also reported that “UK redundancies hit record before second Covid lockdown”, stating that the furlough scheme still resulted in around 314,000 people losing their jobs before the second lockdown. As mentioned by the Office for National Statistics, the unemployment rate from August-October was 4.9%; a number which only increased during the second lockdown in November.
All of these different tragic experiences had an enormous impact on mental health. A mental health survey was carried out on 4,241 university students by the National Union of Students (NUS) from the 6th-23rd of November. This study showed that, “52% of students say their mental health has deteriorated” due to COVID-related circumstances. The result of this showed that students were not sleeping well, and 57% had been interacting less with other peers at their university, with 65% participating less in societies and clubs. Throughout this number, only 29% of students who reported a decline in mental health had reached out for mental health support. This leads to many questions, such as, “Were students able to receive support?”, “What prevents students from reaching out?” and “What could be done to help the other 71% of students who needed help?”.
The BBC had interviewed students about their experiences, and many had used the words “hopeless”, “depressing” and “difficult” to express what they had gone through. The stress of a student studying, trying to make friends, and potentially working a job, with the overall stress of not being able to go outside, socialise, or study well is devastating.
Speaking to many friends and experiences of my own, the main reply when you talk about experiences is that the quarantine was hard. The main issues were being alone, overthinking, and not having anyone to turn to. Many students interviewed in studies around the UK had said that it was very hard to get help, and the lack of mental health support from in-person therapists, psychologists, or counselors resulted in a further decline.
Larissa Kennedy, the NUS president, had referred to the lack of student support as “deeply troubling”. The Department for Education has stated that mental wellbeing is a top priority in students, especially after the lockdown, and has provided around £3 million to fund mental health platforms. It is completely agreed upon and seen that the government needs to provide funding for places of education, the NHS, and other mental health services for students, and anyone struggling. Especially as this causes drastic results on mental wellbeing as a whole, education, and daily life.
Even though we no longer are in a lockdown, there are many long-lasting effects and experiences that are present, especially with a tier 3 lockdown coming into effect and the closure of universities for the holidays.
Many universities have support systems, welfare teams, and mental health aid if you are in need of it. If you are reading along to this and can relate, please reach out to the QMUL support services, or NHS services that you feel would suit you best. Please do reach out if you feel like you’re feeling upset, nervous, or stressed out. There is not a bar you need to reach to receive support. Even if you just want a chat, please do reach out to any of the support networks below, friends or family. Thank you and stay safe!
QMUL mental health support services:
Other support systems:
Coping during a crisis
Tower Hamlets 24 hour mental health crisis helpline
The mental health crisis line is available 24 hours a day and callers will be given support and advice from mental health professionals.
Since November 2020, the Tower Hamlets Crisis Line number has been free 0800 073 0003
Rethink Mental Illness
PAPYRUS is the national charity dedicated to the prevention of young suicide. They support young people under 35 who are experiencing thoughts of suicide, as well as people concerned about someone else.
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM)
NHS mental health services
NHS urgent mental health helplines
NHS urgent mental health helplines are for people of all ages.
Urgent advice: Get advice from 111 or ask for an urgent GP appointment if: you need help urgently for your mental health, but it’s not an emergency
Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E now if: someone’s life is at risk /you do not feel you can keep yourself or someone else safe.
(Feature Image Credit: @rojekillian on Unsplash)