More depression and anxiety since pandemic says CCG

CCG

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)'s Dr Emma Tiffin, clinical lead for adult mental health. - Credit: CCG

It’s nearly been 12 months since we went into a national lockdown and “the new normal” became staying at home, lessons on laptops and catch-ups over Zoom. 

But for those working on the NHS frontline; it’s been a roller coaster ride in survival. 

Scientists have warned of a deterioration in mental health across all age groups during the pandemic, with young people struggling the most. 

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is one of the largest CCGs in England and it has made sure that mental wellbeing is one of its main priorities. 

 Dr Emma Tiffin, clinical lead for adult mental health, has spoken to The Hunts Post about how the CCG has tackled the stigma and struggles surrounding mental health. 

“We have seen a lot more depression and anxiety than before,” Dr Tiffin said. 

“People phoning in really worried about feeling incredibly anxious and struggling to work or take care of family. 

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“Patients can be very tearful, have a low mood, be angry, lacking in energy and just not enjoying things like they used to do. 

“Panic attacks are so scary too; people can feel like they are going to die.” 

Physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, dizziness, loss of appetite and upset stomach can also be caused by anxiety, with some people not even realising they may have a mental health problem. 

Dr Tiffin continued: “I have had a lot more calls from parents worried about their teenagers, they may be spending more time in bed or not getting up until the afternoon.  

“Older people who are clinically vulnerable have also had very little interaction with the outside world. 

“Social isolation is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day; it's very harmful to physical and mental health.” 

Fortunately, the CCG and local agencies who specialise in support for mental health have been able to be there for those most in need. 

Lifeline is a free, confidential and anonymous telephone helpline service that is currently available from 11am – 11pm every day on 0808 808 2121. 

It provides listening support and information to someone experiencing mental distress. 

Talking therapy also takes place via the Psychological Wellbeing Service, which anyone can refer themselves too, without having to go through a doctor first. 

“We are also very lucky that we have the 111 crisis line, where you press 2 for mental health help,” Dr Tiffin continued. 

“There’s Keep-Your-Head.com which is a website with lots of contacts and ways to manage mental health symptoms during the pandemic.

"And in Peterborough we have the site H.A.Y - which stands for How Are You Peterborough? 

“Ultimately, there’s been a lot of opportunities for people to get the support they need despite it being a tragic situation with Covid-19.” 

Virtual classes, online museum tours and walking routes across the countryside have also been paramount in helping people get into the right head space during the pandemic. 

“But we never want to exclude people if they are not digital savvy – we will still be here for them,” Dr Tiffin added. 

“I tell everyone to go out and have a walk or get fresh air just once a day, as exercise is incredibly important. 

“I think young people have been impacted massively so we need to make sure there isn’t a long-time effect of this when they become adults.” 

Post-pandemic life may not be as we remember, but that doesn’t mean a bleak future, as Dr Tiffin insists that “positivity is key” and realising the past year has been a learning-curb for everyone. 

“The pandemic has brought us closer with other services and there are some great relationships and greater understanding of what we all do,” she added. 

“We will continue to get the message out there that we are here to support people through this. We are here for you.” 

For more information visit www.cpft.nhs.uk/ 

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