“Make time, even if it is ‘just’ a text asking someone how they are. That one text would make a big difference to the person receiving that message.”
The last 12 months have been incredibly stressful for everybody in all walks of life.
We are living in uncertain times where life has changed significantly and with further uncertain times ahead, it’s not surprising to hear stress, anxiety and depression levels are far above normal.
A recent study by the Stress Management Society showed 74% of adults in the UK state that they had experienced high levels of stress over the last year, leaving them feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope. It also showed that 65% have felt more stressed since the Covid-19 restrictions began in March 2020.
As a member of the MDP LGBT+ board I am aware that the LGBT+ community are no exception from this rise in stress. Research from the LGBT foundation showed from 16th March to 5th April 2020 LGBT Foundation’s helpline saw 13% more calls about mental health, 70% more calls about transphobia and 36% more calls about homophobia compared to the period 24th February to 15th March 2020.
In just a two week period the LGBT Foundation‘s helpline had seen an increase of 64% in calls about isolation.
What can we do to help someone who is currently experiencing stress?
People cope with stress in many different ways and what may work for someone may not always work for you. However, share your coping mechanisms as it may be of benefit to someone.
One of the key things is to talk to someone.
Mental health can be a bit of a taboo subject where some people may not wish to talk about it and don’t want others to know that they are feeling stressed.
One way to reduce the stigma associated with stress is by talking about it openly. There is nothing to be ashamed of and you can make a positive difference to someone by doing so.
We have recently seen the hashtag ‘be kind’ which is particularly poignant at the moment. It’s important to show compassion and empathy to someone who is experiencing stress. Make time, even if it is ‘just’ a text asking someone how they are. That one text would make a big difference to the person receiving that message.
Another way to help while experiencing stress is to ‘look after yourself’ which can be quite difficult and the last thing on your mind when you’re feeling stressed.
Try to take time out of your day to do something for you which you enjoy whether it is to read a chapter of a book a day, or to listen to music. Healthy eating and exercise can help even through the thought of it may be unappealing to begin with!
Here is a list of useful links which I have found:
Public Health England (PHE)- Have developed a free Psychological First Aid training course. Aimed at helping people take care of their own mental health as well as helping to support others https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/psychological-first-aid-covid-19/1?utm_campaign=fl_phecovidpsych_2020&utm_medium=futurelearn_organic_pressrelease&utm_source=fl_pr_outreach
Every mind matters run by Public Health England (PHE) and the NHS. It has a range of resources on stress and how to cope with it and support others who are stressed https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/stress/
COVID-19 – how LGBT-inclusive organisations can help (stonewall.org.uk) – Stonewall list of organisations and support networks which can help https://www.stonewall.org.uk/about-us/news/covid-19-%E2%80%93-how-lgbt-inclusive-organisations-can-help