01 Feb 2021

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has reported that almost one in five adults were likely to be experiencing some form of depression during the pandemic. They found a marked increase in anxiety at the beginning of lockdown – with almost half (49.6%) of people reporting high anxiety.

This week (1-7 February) marks Children’s Mental Health Week and also Time to Talk Day on Thursday 4 February both highlighting the importance to check in with each other and access support if you need it.


From a recent survey, St Helens health leaders understand that concerns around the mental and emotional impact of isolation is one reason that many people may find it hard to self-isolate.


You should isolate if you have any symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature, a new continuous cough or loss or change to your sense of smell or taste), you are waiting for a coronavirus test result, have had a positive test result, or are instructed to by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app. Isolating means staying at home and only leaving to get a test.


Cllr Anthony Burns, St Helens Borough Council’s cabinet member for Wellbeing, Culture and Heritage, said: “It’s really understandable that some people may be feeling anxious, disconnected and concerned during these uncertain times.


“Time to Talk Day takes place on Thursday 4 February – is a brilliant opportunity to get people talking about mental health. A small conversation can make a big difference to someone who is struggling. We know that the more we talk about mental health, the more that we can bust myths, break barriers, and help people to ask for help if they need it.


“If you’re isolated by coronavirus (COVID-19) and are finding it hard, it’s important to remember that mental health support is available. If you are in urgent need or are vulnerable and you are self-isolating, call the St Helens Together helpline for support on 01744 676767 (open 8am-10pm, 7 days a week). I’d like to thank the people of St Helens for self-isolating when asked, as it’s crucial to stop the spread of coronavirus, protect our NHS and save lives.”


Pauline McGrath, commissioner for adult mental health services at NHS St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “There has been a marked increase in mental health conditions during the pandemic – ranging from low wellbeing, sleep problems and anxiety to depression. We have ensured that mental health services have remained open throughout this time.


“We know it’s not easy to talk about mental health, but it’s really important to check-in with yourself and your loved ones. Ask them how they’re feeling and let them know that it’s OK to reach out if they need help. There’s lots of online resources and advice to help manage your health and wellbeing, and if you need more help, the NHS is here for you.


“It’s also important to encourage children to talk about how they are feeling, as it can be harder for them to process what has been happening during the pandemic and they will have been impacted by school closures and being unable to see their friends as normal. Children’s Mental Health Week, so it’s a perfect time to start a conversation.


Here in St Helens, we have commissioned a digital service called Qwell (www.qwell.io) which gives all adults over 25 access to free and anonymous mental health support online without any referrals or waiting times.  Children and young people up to 25 can use its sister site, www.kooth.com  which provides the same online support and counselling aimed at a younger audience.”


If you need help during a mental health crisis or emergency, call the North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust urgent mental health helpline on 0800 051 1508 – open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Local resources for St Helens:


National helplines and resources:

  • The Every Mind Matters website features tips and support on how to deal with change, cope with money worries and job uncertainty and how to look after your mental wellbeing while staying at home. It also includes practical tips and videos on a range of topics.
  • Whether you're concerned about yourself or a loved one, the NHS website lists mental health charities, organisations and support groups that can offer expert advice.
  • The children’s mental health week website contains lots of resources available for children, young people and the adults who support them.
  • The Time to Change website contains more information about Time to Talk Day and how to get involved.
  • For information about help and financial support available whilst self-isolating, visit the NHS