The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Additional Advice for Groups with Specific Mental Health Needs

Existing mental health problems

If you already have a mental health problem, then you may be finding the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak particularly challenging. The advice above should help, but here are a few extra things that you may want to think about. This advice is part of comprehensive guidance provided by Mind.

Managing difficult feelings or behaviours to do with hygiene, washing or fears of infection

Some mental health problems can cause difficult feelings or behaviours to do with washing or hygiene. If you experience this, you might find it hard to hear advice about washing your hands.

It is important to follow government advice on helping to avoid the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), but if you find you are going beyond the recommendations, if this is making you feel stressed or anxious, or if you are having intrusive thoughts here are some things you could try:

  • don’t keep re-reading the same advice if this is unhelpful for you
  • let other people know you’re struggling, for example you could ask them not to discuss the news with you
  • breathing exercises can help you cope and feel more in control. You can find a simple breathing exercise on the NHS website and Mind’s pages on relaxation have some relaxation tips and exercises you can try
  • set limits, like washing your hands for the recommended 20 seconds
  • plan something to do after washing your hands, which could help distract you and change your focus
  • it could also help to read some of Mind’s tips in their information on obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

Speaking to your mental health team

If you are already receiving mental health care, contact your mental health team to discuss how care will continue, and to update safety/care plans.

Managing panic and anxiety

If you have panic attacks or flashbacks, it might help to plan a ‘safe space’ in your home that you’ll go to.

You can also find ways to comfort yourself if you’re feeling anxious. For example, Mind has games and puzzles you can use to distract yourself, and breathing exercises which may help.

Managing feelings of being trapped or claustrophobia

You are probably spending more time than usual at home so try to get outside if you can, once a day. You could also open the windows to let in fresh air, find a place to sit with a view outside, or sit on your doorstep or in your garden if you have one. It can also help to regularly change the rooms you spend time in (if possible). This can help to give you a sense of space.

If you are reducing your drinking significantly

If you are reducing your drinking, remember it can be dangerous to stop too quickly without proper support. If you have physical withdrawal symptoms (like shaking, sweating or feeling anxious until you have your first drink of the day) you should seek medical advice. For further advice available in your area (including remote services) see NHS advice.