The last two years have been a difficult time for all of us with the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2021, the mental health charity Mind conducted a study into the impact that the pandemic has had on mental health. From the information that was gathered from the 12,000 people living in England and Wales who took part, a third of them said that their mental wellbeing deteriorated since the beginning of the pandemic. Nine in ten young people experienced loneliness and 55% of adults are scared to be around people as the preventative restrictions are lifted. Mind’s research also found that many people are scared about their futures as well that, alarmingly, 58% of benefit recipients are suffering from poor mental health.
The study also paints a worrying picture of society’s current attitude to mental health. Although there were many people who sought help for the first time during the pandemic, 1 in 5 of adults still don’t seek support because they believed it wasn’t serious enough or they did not feel comfortable about receiving that help. Mind’s study clearly shows that the pandemic has been detrimental to mental health and there is a lot that we must do to support people struggling with their mental health and to lift the stigma that exists around speaking about mental health issues and receiving treatment.
In March 2020 I was in my final semester of university. I was so excited about my upcoming graduation ceremony and deciding what my next step after my bachelor’s was going to be. I had recently returned from a foreign exchange to the USA where I fell in love with California during a short trip to LA and dreamt of returning soon and reminiscing those days in the Florida sun at the university. My impromptu road trip to New Orleans, even remembering it now I can hear the live jazz music. Those four months had solidified my desire to go solo travelling.
And then the pandemic hit. My graduation was postponed, any job and postgraduate opportunities disappeared. I couldn’t travel out of my hometown without a good reason, let alone anywhere else in the world or even in the UK. No birthday lunches and absent family members made Christmas and New Year feel incomplete. I felt that just like that, my life was gone. With nothing to do or to look forward to.
All I could do was stay at home, alone with my thoughts. Every day I scrutinized every decision I had made to see if I could have done differently to make this situation easier. Every penny I spent, should I have looked for more work experience while I was studying? I started to doubt whether pursuing a degree was worthwhile. That piece of paper became increasingly useless. Even now I can’t allow myself to get excited about my graduation ceremony this July. I’m so glad my university have been so determined to hold the ceremony but then I think to myself “It’s been two years, is there really a point?.”
I started speaking to a counsellor after a terrible experience with a former employer during the pandemic. It was the first time that I had someone completely empathise with what I had gone through, they were so patient, and it helped me so much to have more clarity about how I was feeling, and it made everything in my head make more sense to me.
As we adjust to living a life after the pandemic, it’s time to prioritise our mental health and provide support for those who are struggling. Even if it’s just checking in with our loved ones over a cuppa, what’s important is letting people know that they’re not alone.
Here at the Nilupul Foundation we have many classes that focus on improving your mental wellbeing and by attending one of our classes you’re also supporting our mission to support low-income and unemployed people with their mental wellbeing by offering them free places on our Headroom & Food for Thought courses.