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People urged to access Cornwall’s support services amid rise in anxiety and depression

There is help and support available for anyone experiencing mental health difficulties during the second lockdown. 

This is the message from Cornwall Council’s Public Health team and NHS partners as once again people are asked to stay in their homes to halt the spread of coronavirus. 

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Statistics suggest that the number of people experiencing anxiety and/or depression in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has roughly doubled since the pandemic began. 

A survey by independent group Healthwatch Cornwall over six weeks in June and July revealed that of the 1,731 participants, 13% had ‘probable’ depression/anxiety and 44% had ‘possible’ depression/anxiety.

In Cornwall Council’s residents’ survey in 2017 the figures were 5% and 22% respectively – roughly half.  

Concerns focused on finances, the health of family members, fears around catching the virus, isolation and loneliness, and uncertainty about the future. 

In response, Cornwall Council and its partners across the health and social care system have pulled together a range of materials including guides, web links, phone apps, z-cards for wallets and crucial information and contact details for anyone who finds themself in crisis. 

Many can be found on our Mental Health Guidance webpage, and there is a list of other links below. 

Support is being offered virtually as well as face-to-face, with targeted work going on in high risk groups and communities. Initiatives include social prescribing at GP practices, a mobile crisis lorry run by charity Valued Lives, and expansion of debt management and mental health advice and support via CAB and Pentreath. 

Cllr Sally Hawken, Cornwall Council’s portfolio holder for children, wellbeing and public health, said: “We want people to know that mental health services are available to support them and ready to listen. It’s OK to not be OK, and no one has to face things alone. 

“As well as checking out the help and information on our website we would also urge everyone to follow the Five Ways to Wellbeing, which include staying in touch with family and friends, keeping active and healthy and trying new things.” 

The Five Ways to Wellbeing are: 

  1. Connect – Lockdown or self-isolation doesn’t mean you can’t stay in touch with friends and loved-ones through social media, email, facetime/video calling or a good old-fashioned phone call.  
  1. Be active – Staying active is vital for your physical and mental health, and lockdown doesn’t mean this is off limits. Check out the Healthy Cornwall website for ideas. 
  1. Keep learning – Trying a new hobby or learning something new is a great way to keep the mind active so why not learn a musical instrument, try your hand at photography or become a crossword expert? 
  1. Give - Supporting vulnerable people and/or volunteering can help you make new friends as well as make a huge difference in your community. For more information visit the Volunteer Cornwall website.  
  1. Take notice – Try to be mindful of your environment and make the time to get as much sunlight, fresh air and nature as you can, while still sticking to the rules. 

Rachel Wigglesworth, director of public health for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: “Cornwall Council is committed to helping people get safely through this second lockdown and beyond. 

“Being worried during these uncertain times is completely understandable and the new measures now in place mean it is more likely people will experience feelings such as anxiety, loneliness and being overwhelmed.  

“But we want everyone to know that help and support is there so please take the time to check out what’s available. This could help you improve your own mental wellbeing as well as the mental health of other people in your community. Remember, we’re all in this together.” 

Dr Richard Sharpe, advanced public health practitioner at Cornwall Council, said: “Information and feedback from across our communities suggest people are feeling more anxious but may not be coming forward for help and support with their wellbeing. There is also evidence that some people who are already known to mental health services are attending with more severe symptoms which are requiring more intensive support. 

“With this in mind we want to remind people that help is available and we would urge people to make use of the support services. I would also advise people to take time to relax, eat well, stay hydrated, and maintain a healthy and active lifestyle that includes good quality regular sleep patterns.” 

Tim Francis, head of joint strategic commissioning for mental health and learning disability at NHS Kernow, said: “It has been extremely encouraging to see how collaboratively service providers across statutory as well as 3rd and voluntary sectors have come together to tackle the impacts of the pandemic.  

“We have established even more support to reach out to even more people with targeted schemes including the farming and fishing communities and more rural towns and villages.” 

  • 24/7 NHS mental health response line for support and advice: Call free on 0800 038 5300, any time day or night if you are worried about your own or someone else’s mental health. The team behind our 24/7 open access telephone response line will listen to you and determine how best to help. 
  • A range of mental wellbeing guides are available on our mental health webpages.  They cover everything from pregnancy to suicidal thoughts. 
  • Outlook South West, which is part of Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, has a range of talking therapy services available to people aged 16 and above in Cornwall. These include psychological wellbeing courses like Stress Buster, currently being delivered as live online webinars. They also provide one-to-one therapy for anxiety and depression via telephone and video appointments, as well as various digital platforms for guided self-help.  
  • Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has 12 free online self-help courses that anyone can take from a platform called ‘SilverCloud’. 
  • Charities including Valued Lives and Mind contain a wealth of information aimed at helping people with mental health difficulties. 
  • For tips, support and advice on all things health-related visit the Healthy Cornwall website. 
  • For mental health safety plans and a list of Apps to support you with your mental health, visit our Safety Plan webpages.
  • If you are in crisis and need support then contact your GP or NHS Direct on 111. Other support available includes: 
  • Valued Lives – 01209 901438 
  • Samaritans – 116 123 
  • SANE – 0845 767800 
  • Papyrus – for young adults – 0800 0684141 
  • CALM – for men – 0800 585858 
  • Childline – for under 19s – 0800 1111 
  • Community Mental Health Team – 0845 2077711