“Be kind to yourself and listen to the way you feel when things don’t seem quite right.” That’s the view of Elaine McWilliams, consultant clinical psychologist at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.
As we highlight Mental Health Awareness Week and its theme of kindness, Dr Elaine McWilliams has explained the help out there and some strategies she has used to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She said: “Imagine you are in a pool with the water rising – the time to reach out for help is then and not when we are drowning.
“This whole situation is a marathon, not a sprint.
“Be kind to yourself, as well as to others. Give yourself time and attention.
“Take up something new – I have started learning the piano! I am really enjoying it, it’s refreshing to do something new.
“I also go for walks. I’ve started taking my camera with me and taking photos of small things. It could be a bluebell, an animal or a spider.
“It’s like mindfulness, in a way.
“My partner runs every day, our 12-year-old son goes with him on bike rides too.
“We also cook meals together as a family and I bake a lot.
“Gardening and decorating is something practical we can do. You can see an end result and take pride in it.
“Anything involving organisation, such as tidying the house, can have such a positive impact too. It has that twin association – you are organising your head at the same time and gathering your mind and your thoughts.”
Any staff looking for support and advice can find information and toolkits on the Trust’s internal pages.
For more information on how to access mental health services, visit www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/nhs-services/mental-health-services/how-to-access-mental-health-services