Coping with Corona – excessive media speculation can severely exacerbate existing mental health issues

There is growing concern that the reports of an increasing number of Coronavirus cases in the UK may have a significant impact on mental health as well as physical wellbeing across Britain.

While stemming the outbreak is the number one priority for the government and Britain’s health services, the overwhelming media coverage and alarming reports of the virus’ potency has the potential to severely exacerbate symptoms of anxiety and OCD for those suffering with existing mental health issues.

Gerard Barnes, CEO of mental health treatment specialists Smart TMS, is one industry professional who is concerned with the potential impact that the reports of the Coronavirus could have on the nation’s mental health, rather than physical health. Now, Gerard shares his tips on how people can safeguard their mental wellbeing in such a time of panic.

“It is certainly important to take the necessary precautions to protect your physical health given the circumstances surrounding the spread of Covid-19, and keeping up-to-date with the news as it progresses is equally as necessary. However, the overwhelming reports and scaremongering that has accompanied the spread of the virus has the potential to severely impact people’s mental health, specifically those already suffering with chronic anxiety or OCD.

With this in mind, here are some tips from our anxiety and OCD treatment specialists at Smart TMS, to help you prioritise and manage your mental wellbeing during this time”:

Avoid speculation and focus on the facts
There has been such an overwhelming amount of media coverage on the virus, but the actual statistics paint a less threatening picture. Despite all of the speculative reports, it has been widely agreed that the actual mortality rate for Coronavirus is less than 1%, with the overwhelming majority of deaths thus far attributed to the elderly and those with a severe pre-existing medical condition.

Try to avoid being caught up in the media storm and avoid reading excessive speculative reports. Stick to respected health-first websites, such as the NHS, to get clear, simple instructions and facts on the Coronavirus and how to handle it.

Stay connected to your support network
At times of stress, we work better in company and with support. Make an effort to keep in touch with your friends and family. Maintaining strong connections will help you to feel supported and surrounded by positivity and good energy. You are also more likely to be able to have an open conversation about the virus with those close to you – being able to discuss the issue and perhaps even make jokes about it, will help you to feel more comfortable and overcome any anxiety you may have over the threat.

Stick to your routine and positive behaviours
Whilst it is certainly important to remain vigilant and take the necessary precautions to maintain good personal hygiene, it is just as important to stick to your daily routine. The NHS website provides some simple, daily steps to manage your physical health, but unless you are suffering from the symptoms or have been asked to self-isolate, there is no reason to suffer any disruption to your daily routine and day-to-day activities.

Furthermore, the potential of increased stress brought about by the news of Coronavirus could leave you feeling more inclined to lean on negative and harmful habits such as excessive drinking, smoking or drug use. We strongly recommend focusing on positive behaviours, such as maintaining good exercise, a healthy diet and plenty of sleep, to ensure your physical and mental health is in the best possible state.

Gerard Barnes, CEO of mental health treatment specialists Smart TMS