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Looking after your mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus outbreak

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For many of us, it feels like coronavirus is taking over our lives. It is all over the news and social media and we are having to change our behaviour to keep us and others safe and well. You may be worried about catching the virus yourself or passing it on to a family member, or feel sad at the thought of having to stay away from family and friends. This can take a huge toll on your mental health.

If we follow government advice, we greatly reduce our chances of catching the virus and becoming unwell. However, this means withdrawing from our normally sociable lives and not having as much contact with the people we love. Staying at home means we are protecting our own and others’ physical health, but we also need to think about the impact on our mental health.

Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland is a charity that cares for people and all aspects of their wellbeing – including mental wellbeing. Here we share advice on how to avoid being overwhelmed with what you are hearing in the news and to help you feel better about having to distance yourselves from others. The advice is adapted from information produced by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on looking after our mental health during coronavirus.

Limit time watching the news

To help look after your mental health, limit how much time you spend reading or watching news or updates on coronavirus. Take time to listen to any new advice or guidance, then change the channel, radio station or web page. Try to limit how much news you are watching to once or twice a day.

You should also avoid watching, reading or listening to news that makes you feel anxious or distressed, as this will have a negative impact on your mental wellbeing.

Follow official advice

In order to keep yourself safe, and protect both your physical health and mental health, make sure you are following official government advice. Make an action plan to take the correct steps to protect yourself and your loved ones – from practicing social distancing to ensuring you wash your hands thoroughly.

While it is hard to stay away from friends and family, or only be able to leave shopping on an elderly loved one’s doorstep, feel confident that your actions are keeping them safe. Knowing you are doing the right thing will help to improve your mental wellbeing.

Stay positive

Take time to reflect on the positive stories in the news from people who have experienced and recovered from coronavirus. Whilst the virus can be very serious for some, the majority of people will recover well.

Also look out for ‘good news stories’ on TV and social media or positive things happening in your local community to remind you of great things happening right now. If watching the news or scrolling your social media feed makes you feel anxious, just walk away and turn to your favourite TV boxset, a fun hobby or a good book to help look after your mental health.

Keep in touch

Keep in touch and support others if you can. This not only will help them, but it can also make you feel good knowing you are supporting someone. You could try phoning a neighbour or someone you know who might need to hear a friendly voice.

It’s more important than ever to keep in touch with friends and family members by phone or video call. If you’re struggling with your mental health and wellbeing, reach out to a loved one for support. If you aren’t sure who to turn to, our Kindness Volunteers can help. Fill in your details on our website, and we’ll match you up with a Kindness Volunteer who will call you regularly and provide a friendly, listening ear.


People with chest, heart and stroke conditions are most at risk of coronavirus, and we are working hard to make sure you have the most up-to-date information on what coronavirus means for you and your condition, how to stay well, and what to do if you become unwell. Please visit our Resources Hub for a range of downloadable Essential Guides, factsheets, posters and more.

If you feel like you need more support, we are here to help. For free, confidential advice and information, call our Advice Line nurses on 0808 801 0899, email adviceline@chss.org.uk or text NURSE to 66777.


For more information and support on how to look after your mental health, visit:

Breathing Space Scotland for anyone in Scotland feeling low, anxious or isolated.
Website: www.breathingspace.scot
Helpline: 0800 83 85 87 (weekday evenings 6pm-2am, weekends 24 hours)

Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) has a web page with resources dedicated to looking after your mental wellbeing in the times of coronavirus.
Website: www.samh.org.uk

Support in Mind Scotland supports people with their mental health.
Website: www.supportinmindscotland.org.uk/coronavirus
Helpline: 0300 323 1545 (9am-3.30pm Mon-Fri)

Samaritans are available if you need someone to listen and talk you through your concerns and worries.
Website: www.samaritans.co.uk
Helpline: 116 123 (available 24 hours a day)