When delivering mental health training one of the things I emphasise is the importance of holding hope for people who are experiencing a mental health issue; to assure them that there is a light at the end of the tunnel even though they can’t see it themselves.
During this difficult time I’m sure that many of you are providing emotional support to friends & family who may be feeling stressed, distressed or anxious, but we are all affected by the pandemic and it is harder to be supportive of others if we are struggling to feel optimistic ourselves.
THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE
In this time of uncertainty, fear, vulnerability and loss, some amazing things have been happening: Support measures and changes to legislation have been rushed through parliament to protect as many jobs and homes as possible, and support the economy. Private healthcare and other businesses have offered facilities and resources to the NHS. Research scientists across the globe have been racing to develop vaccines and improved Covid 19 tests.
A vast number of people have been working tirelessly to support the most vulnerable in our society, and hundreds of thousands of people have volunteered to help them. Numerous others have maintained supplies of food, medications, utilities, or ensured that those on the front line can get to work. Millions ‘clapped for carers’ last Thursday to show how much we value NHS staff who are risking their own lives in order to save the lives of others. People care and they want to help. There are many more acts of dedication, altruism, compassion and kindness happening every day.
PEOPLE ARE AWESOME!
The past couple of weeks have shown us how quickly and capably we are able to adapt to change. Many businesses are providing new online or delivery services. Those able to work from home are learning new ways to team work in the virtual world. Teachers are giving online lessons, parents are finding new ways to keep their children stimulated and active, and as a nation we are all exploring different ways of connecting with others.
STRENGTH IN OUR COMMUNITIES
Community support groups have sprung up all over the UK with an impetus to look out for each other and offer help to those in need. My local group started about two weeks ago and now more than 90 neighbours have connected via WhatsApp.
The camaraderie and support within the group has been outstanding: Making sure that elderly and self-isolating neighbours are being supported; numerous offers of help; lots of sharing of information and resources; reports from friends and families in other parts of the world; heartwarming acts of kindness, support and generosity; plus lots of humour and even a coordinated sing-along to help us feel upbeat.
Early on someone suggested putting rainbows in our windows for local children to look out for when they were still going to school. I have seen people smile as they spot the rainbow in my window, and seeing so many more up and down our road helps to keep me cheerful when I’m out on my solitary daily walk.
THINGS WILL GET BETTER
We all know that the current situation is tragic. That globally thousands of people have died, and that there will be more deaths in the coming weeks. That too many people will be facing hardship and experiencing bereavement. That even when these worst of times have passed, nothing will ever feel quite the same as it did before.
But there is still hope, because globally and as a nation, we are more aware than ever of our own abilities to innovate and adapt quickly to changing circumstances, more aware of our need to connect with our loved ones and communities, more aware of the altruism, empathy, and generosity of others, more aware of how much we rely on the contributions of so many other people in our daily lives, and how much we value those contributions.
Nothing will ever be quite the same, but the situation will gradually improve, and some things may well become better than they’ve been before.
A SYMBOL OF HOPE
I hope that you are able to share my sense of hope and optimism in this difficult time, but if you are still struggling to see anything but darkness then please trust me and those close to you when we tell you that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and possibly a rainbow too!
Mental Health First Aid Instructor