Today – 10 October 2020 – is World Mental Health Day, and at a time when there is so much uncertainty and disruption in our lives due to the coronavirus pandemic, recognising the theme of ‘Increased Investment’ today seems more poignant than ever.
Over the last few months, Meningitis Now has been working hard to make sure that everyone in the UK who has been affected by meningitis can access the support they need. Our recent coronavirus impact survey, created to allow us to best address the needs of those affected, highlighted that as many as three-quarters of people who have had a meningitis experience struggle at some point with their mental health and emotional well-being.
In response to this, we recently held our very first online mental health support event: Keep Connected – Let’s Talk about Meningitis and Mental Health. Claire Donovan, our Helpline and Information Manager, tells us more.
“The session was facilitated by our Director of Support, Beverley Corbett (my boss!) and myself (Claire). Bev has a nursing background and a wealth of experience in mental health services and I am a registered nurse with many years of experience supporting those contacting our Helpline. As this was the first online support event Bev and I had facilitated, we had a few moments of panic! Would the technology work? Would anyone “turn up” for the event? What would be the experiences of those attending? Lots of unknowns. I am glad to say that all went well, with just the odd technical glitch.
The impact of meningitis on mental health
“The event was attended by seven people with very different meningitis experiences. However, a shared experience was the impact of meningitis on their mental health. Some of the themes discussed included feelings of isolation, health anxiety, lack of understanding by others, sleep issues and delays in accessing therapy through the NHS.
“We went on to discuss some simple strategies that can help. These included the importance of building a support network of understanding family and friends, connecting with others who have had a meningitis experience, making healthy lifestyle choices, self-help strategies such as writing down four or five things every day to be grateful for and the importance of recognising when to ask for professional help.
“What is clear, is that managing a mental health problem can be very difficult. Different things work for different people and at different times. No one shoe fits all! From the feedback we have received everyone gained something from this event, and we plan to hold further online support sessions in the coming months.”
Here to help
We have also published blogs tailored to adults, children and teenagers, each focusing on different methods and ideas for practising self-care and boosting mental health. You can read them here:
- Self-care strategies for mental health
- Tips for reducing anxiety in children
- Tips for fighting anxiety in young people