The lifting of lockdown restrictions and subsequent return to schools, workplaces and social events could trigger elevated levels of stress and anxiety for many people, UK mental health charities and experts have said.
They say that some, particularly those with mental health problems, will be concerned or anxious about the realignment required by the lifting of the lockdown restrictions as set out in the government’s gradual roadmap for the reopening of England.
Dr Tine Van Bortel, Senior Research Associate in Public Health at the University of Cambridge, said: “The lockdown has given people with mental health conditions such as anxiety and PTSD permission to stay home, knowing that at some point you will have to go out again which can trigger stress and anxiety. “
Rosie Weatherley, Information Content Manager at Mind, said: “Some of us may have discovered that there were some unexpected positives to the lockdown and therefore we were uncomfortable or anxious at the prospect of it being removed. For example, we may worry about resuming ‘normalcy’ or not wanting to go back to a faster pace with a busier daily life and less downtime for us. “
He said it was “really important” for the government and employers to provide empathy and support to those in need “beyond lifting the blockade.”
Starting March 29, outdoor gatherings of up to six people, or two households if larger, will be able to meet in parks or gardens, and June 21 is the planned date when all limits could be removed. legal mixing.
Laura Peters, director of counseling and information for Rethink Mental Illness, welcomed the relaxation of restrictions and the consequent reduction in social isolation, but said: “It is important not to assume that everyone is in the same boat. Everyone will have a different set of circumstances to navigate as the restrictions begin to ease, and it is a natural human response to feel anxious in certain situations or times of uncertainty. “
Even among groups such as youth who are widely optimistic about the end of the lockdown, concerns persist. A YoungMinds survey in January found that while 79% of young people agreed that their mental health would start to improve when most restrictions were lifted, some were concerned that the end of the lockdown would happen too quickly and will result in more crashes in the future.
“Over and over again, young people said they felt like they were living ‘Groundhog Day’ and above all they wanted an end to a cycle of freedoms followed by restrictions,” he says. The report.
Even if the government’s roadmap for England proves to be cautious enough, research indicates that broader issues surrounding the pandemic are contributing to anxiety and negativity as the end of the lockdown approaches. According to the most recent Covid-19 social study conducted by UCL researchers, 57% of respondents were concerned about the increase in Covid cases and 53% were concerned about the lack of adherence to social distancing.
Economic concerns also continue to prevail, with about one in three people (37%) worried about a recession and rising unemployment (33%). For many, the government’s licensing scheme has represented an unprecedented social safety net. In January, the total number of UK workers on leave rose to 4.7 million.
The experts were particularly interested in underlining that while the relaxation of restrictions would be seen primarily as a cause for celebration, it would not be universally taken as such. They also said that the uncertainty and disruption caused by a significant change, such as the end of the lockdown, could negatively affect people with no history of mental health problems.
Dr Emilios Lemonatis from the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust said: “Many people with anxiety disorders have felt very comfortable at home because it means being in an environment where they can exercise more control. Potentially they will be very suspicious of the new environment and therefore they will need a lot of support to reorient themselves in the new world. “
Dr Ganga Shreedhar, assistant professor in the department of psychological and behavioral sciences at the LSE, said: “Covid has been such a disruption to the way we normally live our lives that people have had to spend time and effort to adjust. to the new normal … In anticipation of the lifting of restrictions, people may experience increased levels of stress and anxiety if work commitments or time constraints no longer allow them to maintain good routines. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism