While many of us can’t wait to return to normality, if you’re feeling anxious about what life will be like post-COVID-19 you’re not alone and new specialist mental health support is available.
That’s the message from our Talking Therapies service which has developed a new course of treatment specifically to help local residents who are concerned about government restrictions lifting on Monday 19 July or ‘freedom day’.
‘Life after Lockdown’ is a new four-week online programme for people who feel worried about what life will be like once government restrictions have been scaled back around areas such as social contact, working from home, mask wearing and overseas travel.
Developed by NHS psychologists from the service, the course is a series of video tutorials which use proven ways to notice and manage patterns in your thinking or behaviour.
Each week patients are emailed a new video link to watch in their own time. They then complete tasks designed to help them apply the theory to their life and learn techniques to use whenever they notice early warning signs in future.
“The pandemic has transformed our lives.” says Dr Alison Salvadori, a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Head of Berkshire’s NHS Talking Therapies service.
“Whether you’ve lost a loved one, a job, or seen the pandemic as an opportunity to re-assess your priorities in life, and your focus, it’s normal to feel concern about what life will look like once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.” Dr Salvadori continued.
“For some people, this worry is stopping them from living well right now - let alone having the energy to feel at ease with what could come next.
“This really could affect anyone. But if you have been shielding or caring for someone with a long-term condition you may be particularly scared of catching coronavirus or passing it on to others. Or you may be someone who is feeling stressed about the thought of going back to work and using public transport.”
Like most NHS services, Talking Therapies Berkshire had a drop in referrals from March 2020, at the beginning of the first lockdown. The service, which is part of Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, has since seen a surge in people seeking support and referrals are now back at pre-pandemic levels.
“We’ve noticed that a common theme in the concerns people have been telling us about is a worry about the prospect of life post-COVID-19, when things open up again.
“This dedicated online course will help people explore their thinking and behaviour and learn ways to apply techniques to situations in future and build resilience in their day to day life.
“And because it is online, you can complete the tasks in your own time and work around any other commitments you may have such as shift work, caring duties or their own physical health issues.
”The programme is part of a wider package of support being offered around coronavirus, which includes therapy groups for people recovering from long-COVID-19 and an online Stress Less course aimed at young people aged between 17 and 25 years.
Talking Therapies Berkshire is open to anyone over the age of 17 who is showing signs of stress, worry or low mood and registered with a Berkshire GP. You can refer yourself directly without seeing your GP first.
Find out more
You can also find tips and advice on coping with anxiety about lockdown lifting, on the NHS website