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We are currently living in what feels like a Hollywood film. The UK has almost entirely shutdown, most of the country’s workforce is remote working and an army of key workers is battling an invisible enemy on the front line. The dystopian fiction we once enjoyed in films has now become a reality, but among the chaos and coronavirus conversation, there’s something that few people are talking about – life after lockdown.
The UK is currently three weeks into its lockdown, whilst countries such as Spain have extended their social distancing measures again, until 25th April.
With a lockdown extension looking ever likely for the UK, Monica Shafaq, CEO of mental health and well-being charity, The Kaleidoscope Plus Group, has today issued a warning about the mental health impacts of returning to ‘normal’ when this global pandemic is finally under control.
Monica said: ‘There’s no doubt we’re living in times of fear and uncertainty. We have seen unprecedented changes to every part of our lives, with experts predicting it could take six months before things return to the way they were. But the main thing is, we can’t assume that things will go back to normal straight away – it won’t be as easy as that. There’s likely to be a degree of paranoia about whether the virus has fully gone and whether we can still catch it or be close to someone again.’
Monica continued: ‘The current lockdown situation we are in has given people the opportunity to really reflect. Some people will have made some life changing decisions that will initially be difficult to put into place. Some may realise they’re not happy in their relationship, or their job, and want to change. The lockdown we’ve had has really made us think.
‘We are finding that some people with hectic routines have been able to use their busy lifestyles to “cope” with and to a degree, ignore, the impact of past traumas but because they are now being forced to slow down, those emotions are coming to the forefront and more and more people are presenting with symptoms of PTSD. These people now have no choice but to deal with these past experiences.
‘We must also acknowledge the impact that this is having on all the wonderful frontline NHS, social care and key workers who are dealing with this situation on a day to day basis.
‘The time when things go “back to normal” for us will be the time things will slow down for them and it’s likely that they will also present with trauma related mental health symptoms. At The Kaleidoscope Plus Group, we have been working hard to continue to provide a service for those in need, but we need to ensure these services are still in place after the pandemic is over.’
Monica concluded, “Lockdown has definitely given us time to assess where we are in life and has been a test and a lesson to us all. We’re wrong to think that we will ever go back to the old normal, because for some, the old normal wasn’t working anyway. There will be trauma among health workers, an increase in mental health needs, huge changes to lifestyle and economic effects, as well as the uncertainty of what’s next. We will have a new normal and I hope that the unity that has been shown during this period, not just locally or nationally but globally, continues long into the future and becomes part of the new norm.’
Established in 1973, The Kaleidoscope Plus group support thousands of people all over the UK each year. The charity offers a wide range of services for those experiencing mental health difficulties including: community outreach initiatives to provide opportunities to people who want to improve their well-being, counselling for young people and adults, corporate mental health training, as well as residential care homes and supported houses for the most venerable in society.
The Kaleidoscope Plus Group works to promote and support positive health and well-being and is committed to making sure that the services and facilities they provide are of the highest possible quality.