— Jon Kemp is a cognitive behavioural therapist in steps2change at Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. This column is part of a series marking a year since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A year ago this week, the first COVID-19 patient was admitted to hospital in Lincolnshire. Fast forward a year, and the NHS has had to transform itself at a rapid rate to adapt to the ever changing landscape with which it is faced.
There’s no doubt about it – the pandemic of the past year has impacted each, and every one of us, in many different ways.
In the midst of this impact, Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LPFT) has stood strong and continued to provide its much-needed mental health and learning disability services to those in Lincolnshire.
I work in our steps2change talking therapies services and we have embraced the changes required to ensure our service users have been able to continue to access support in the safest way possible.
We adapted our evidence-based treatments to be delivered digitally in line with national guidance.
Our group sessions continue to be delivered via digital platforms, and where necessary face-to-face consultation continues, with precautions taken to minimise risk as far as possible.
During this shifting landscape, LPFT has continued to prioritise supporting its staff, as well as its service users.
During what is a pressurised time, we recognise the importance of supporting our staff with their mental wellbeing and have taken steps to bolster the support available.
This counts for not only our own staff, but those across the Lincolnshire health and care system – health and care professionals have been given additional support and have increased access to mental health and emotional wellbeing support so they can get the help they need, as soon as possible.
As we look back over the past year, it can be said that it has created an environment which seems to be the perfect storm for common mental health problems.
It is therefore more poignant now than ever that these problems are addressed as they arise.
If you are struggling with your mental health, it’s important to bear in mind that help is available which could greatly improve your quality of life.
Evidence from across the UK has proven for many years that an early intervention equals better outcomes for people.
Over the pressure of the past year, I’ve been asked the same question many times by colleagues, patients and friends: “what can I do to manage my wellbeing at this time?”
My answer is always broadly similar. Take your foot off the gas, try to maintain a balance of work, rest and play across your life, exercise regularly, and remember – you’re not alone.
We’re all on this rollercoaster ride together, be kind to yourself, others around you and crucially; if you’re struggling, talk about it.
If you are struggling and want someone to talk to, the county has a mental wellbeing helpline that is available 24/7 on 0800 001 4331, or you can self-refer to our services for more support at www.steps2change.nhs.uk.
It is important that if you feel like you are struggling you speak to someone and ask for help.