Studies show that depression rates are three times higher during the COVID-19 pandemic affecting all age groups, but what can we do about it? 

With constant news headlines surrounding us with deadly figures from the COVID-19 and a national lockdown in place, it is inevitable that the population's mental health will begin to deteriorate. Whether it be losing your job or being stuck at home, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected every single one of us.

Depression is a mental health issue negatively affecting someone's feelings, actions and thoughts, interfering with the ability to perform everyday activities. Symptoms include: withdrawn behaviour, irregular sleep patterns, lack of energy, changes in appetite, continuous low mood, feeling anxious or worried, suicidal thoughts and self-harm. 

A study conducted by ONS UK (Office for National Statistics) shows that 62% of participants felt stressed and anxious, whilst 19% of adults experienced some form of depression in November 2020. A significantly larger proportion of participants with lower household income reported symptoms of anxiety and depression, linking to the economic consequences the pandemic has had on deprived families in the UK. Moreover, in the education sector, over half of university students felt that their mental health had deteriorated since the start of term due to lack of support in place.

How can you prevent or support someone who is feeling depressed or lonely?

  • Pick up the telephone or use video calling technology to keep in contact with a friend or family member
  • Encourage them to go outside for a walk to get some fresh air 
  • Motivate them to utilise safe and healthy coping mechanisms, such as drawing and eating healthily
  • Encourage them to seek professional help, such as visiting their local GP
  • Volunteer with the NHS or a telephone befriending charity to support people vulnerable to depression

Volunteering as a telephone befriender over the past few months, has enabled me to form a stronger connection with vulnerable people who are self-isolating at home. Whilst speaking to a peer volunteer who also makes calls on a weekly basis, Lily Parkins, South London, states, "It allows me to feel like I have made a difference to my community and it can be a good break away from studies, too."

If you have any concerns regarding yourself or someone you know, remember to get in contact with your local GP or call 999 in an emergency.

If you're having suicidal thoughts, call the Samaritans at 116 123.