Cranbrook Comms Mental Health Information

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our everyday life. To slow the transmission of the virus, ‘lockdown’ measures introduced by governments have rapidly changed our way of living and many of us are facing enormous challenges as a result.

While these drastic measures have focused on preserving the physical health of the population, it’s important to be mindful of the impact these restrictions may also be having on our mental health. Many people – young or old – will find it difficult to cope with life as it currently stands and will experience low mood and depression during this pandemic.

Low mood and depression

It’s entirely normal to be experiencing some degree of difficulty in adjusting to these new circumstances, given the magnitude and speed of change with which these have come about. Feeling low or distressed from time to time may be a common difficulty experienced by many at the moment. When this low feeling persists every day for most of the day for several weeks, it could be a symptom of depression. This may have been present before the pandemic, or may have developed in recent weeks or months.

When people experience low mood or depression, sometimes they also experience dark or suicidal thoughts or urges to self-harm. This can be common, especially for young people, and at times can be very distressing. If you are experiencing this we urge you to talk to someone you trust about it. We also recommend that you get in touch with your healthcare provider or one of the following organisations.


Shout is a UK 24/7 text service, free on all major mobile networks, for anyone in crisis anytime, anywhere. It’s a place to go if you’re struggling to cope and you need immediate help.

Text Shout to 85258.


Men’s Health Forum

24/7 stress support for men by text, chat and email.


Rethink Mental Illness

Support and advice for people living with mental illness.

Phone: 0300 5000 927 (Monday to Friday, 9:30am – 4pm)



Advice on dating with domestic violence.

Phone: 0808 2000 247 (24 hour helpline)


Anxiety UK

A charity providing support if you have been diagnosed with an anxiety condition.

Phone: 03444 775 774 (Monday to Friday, 9:20am – 10pm; Saturday to Sunday, 10am – 8pm)


Mental Health Foundation

Provides information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities.



Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.

Phone: 116 123 (free 24 hour helpline)


Alcoholics Anonymous

Phone: 0800 917 7650 (24 hour helpline)



CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15-35.

Phone: 0800 58 58 58 (daily, 5pm-midnight)



Young suicide prevention society.

Phone: HOPELINEUK 0800 068 4141 (Monday to Fridat, 10am – 10pm and 2pm – 10pm on weekends and bank holidays)



Phone: 0808 801 0677 (adults) or 0808 801 0711 (for under-18s)


National Gambling Helpline

Phone: 0808 8020 133


Narcotics Anonymous

Phone: 0300 999 1212 (daily, 10am – midnight)



Emotional support, information and guidance for people affected by mental illness, their families and carers.

Phone: 0300 304 7000 (daily, 4:40pm – 10:30pm)

Textcare: comfort and care via text message, sent when the person needs it most:

Peer support forum:



Routines are an important part of life that keep the body prepared and ready for the day ahead. Restrictions brought about by COVID-19 may have disrupted many of your existing routines, particularly if you or other family members are now working or studying from home (or no longer working). You may have found that your sleeping, eating and exercising patterns have changed, and that you have more (or less) time for your usual activities.

As much as possible, it’s important to maintain some existing routines. This can help you to feel active and engaged, and maintain a sense of normality during these uncertain times. Some of these activities may be quite simple, for example:

• Getting up at the same time each morning

• Getting showered and dressed in the morning – just like any normal day.

• Wearing clothes you know make you feel good about yourself and give your mood a boost.

Sleeping, eating and exercise also benefit from routine. The body runs on a 24 hour clock, and knows what to expect at certain times when we have regular routines, such as what time we have dinner and when we go to bed. Once our body knows our rhythms, it can prepare for them, for example releasing melatonin, a hormone that helps you feel sleepy at bedtime.

Where your daily structure has changed, for example, if you’re not going to school or work, it may be helpful to try and create new routines. If you’re working at home, try to set aside a work space, with a consistent start and finish time, adding in other activities to make your day more balanced. Remember that working or studying at home is likely to look very different to the way it did before COVID-19, and it’s important to be realistic about what’s achievable.

Try breaking the day up into a series of different activities. These might include:

• Exercise

• Hobbies or leisure

• Relaxation

• Connecting with others

• Doing things that you enjoy or find meaningful

Learning something new

You may need to be creative about finding new ways to pursue these activities if your normal approach to exercise, or participating in hobbies is no longer possible. Also try to be kind to yourself, it’s fine not to fill every additional moment doing something new.

One way to approach this is to spend time each evening thinking about what tasks you need to do the following day, and what other activities you’d like to do. Here’s an example outline of how you might like to try this; you can edit this template directly.

After you’ve experimented with planning for a few days, reflect on what impact this has had on your routine, and your mood in particular. What has worked for you, and what hasn’t worked so well? You may wish to discuss this with other members of your household.

Staying Connected

These unusual times have meant that the way in which we connect and socialise, has changed drastically. Young people in particular may be missing this aspect of their lives and feel isolated and unconnected as a result.

It’s therefore really important to maintain regular connections with friends, peers, family, groups and other organisations, even if the way we do this now looks very different. Fortunately, we live in an age where we have many devices that can be used for ‘virtual’ meet-ups. We can join coffee dates, group exercises, gatherings with friends, catch-ups with our colleagues or teachers, and work meetings from our homes.

Maintaining this contact will keep some normality, and a good structure for our day.

It’s likely that some of your conversations at the moment will involve discussing how you are feeling about the COVID-19 pandemic. Sharing feelings with others can be very helpful and make us realise we are not alone. It’s likely that most people are experiencing ups and downs and will have good days and bad days.

Technology Use

It’s important to bear in mind, that whilst technology is a blessing for staying in contact with others, it can also provide us with a constant reminder of the situation and negative messages from the news and social media. It’s also important to remember that social media news and images are often not based on facts.

Distancing yourself from these negative messages and resisting the urge to frequently check social media can be very helpful in promoting a more positive mood, particularly if you find yourself struggling.

Because of your new working or studying arrangements, you may find yourself using screens for longer than you might normally do. This is not necessarily an issue and it may be in everyone’s interest to relax rules around screen time during this period. You can read this article on the BBC website for an interesting discussion on this issue.

Maintaining Balance

The key is to maintain a balance between staying connected, but also not spending too much time on devices or listening to negative things on social media from individuals with whom you don’t have a relationship.

If you notice your mood dipping, turn the devices off for a while and do something active or focus on what interests you instead. It’s fine to want some time to yourself each day but it’s also worth spending time with other members of your household to break up your day and stay connected.

Sleep is hugely important for both our physical and mental health, and teenagers in particular are vulnerable to sleeping difficulties, due to changes in their biology. During these times of social distancing and social isolation, you may have found your sleep habits have changed or become even more challenging.

Sleep Tips

It’s important to establish a good routine and habits around sleeping and bedtime. As much as possible, go to sleep, wake up and get out of bed at the same times each day. It’s tempting to sleep in for much longer or stay up much later when we don’t need to go to school or be at other places. However, this will play havoc with your biological clock and can eventually make it much more difficult to get good sleep.

Another tip is to make sure your bedroom is associated with sleeping and not with being awake and active.

This might be difficult at the moment if you’re restricted to being at home, where you might be living closely with a number of family members. If you’re able to spend time in other parts of the house, try and treat your bedroom as an important sleep environment. If this isn’t possible, set up a comfy beanbag or blanket in your bedroom to help you avoid doing all of your activities in bed. We’ve highlighted a range of other helpful techniques that can improve sleep on the right.

Eating Well

It’s important to continue following guidance around healthy eating (visit the NHS website for further information), ensuring that we get a good mixed diet, which includes the key food groups.

When we’re feeling low, we sometimes crave sugary foods which give us quick energy boosts, but these often result in crashes in energy which may affect our mood in a negative way. If this sounds familiar, try getting your energy boost from carbohydrates instead, especially complex carbohydrates, which will help to keep your blood sugar level stable between meals.

Complex carbohydrates include wholegrain breads and flours, starchy vegetables (such as parsnips, butternut squash and sweet potatoes), lentils and beans.
Planning and preparing meals can be something nice for the family to do together, and provide a fun activity away from school work.

Take a look at the following studies that explore the connection between food and mood on the left:

The new workplace

Our colleagues at Wellworking have a series of tips and advice on how to work well, both from home and at the office, which you can see here.

Staying Active

Exercise is an important part of daily life, and many of us are still able to run, walk or cycle outside. But this may not be the case for everyone, or may be especially challenging if you’re no longer able to train with others in your chosen sport or hobby. Equally you may prefer not to exercise everyday. If this is the case, look for other activities you can try at home; there are lots of free online exercise classes, that are both cardio as well as strength or relaxation based. All of these activities will help you keep fit, healthy, and will improve your mood. Check out the following websites:

  • Joe Wicks is offering a live 30 minute session on his YouTube channel at 9am every weekday morning or you can choose to do it at a time that suits you.
  • Londonsport have gathered a useful list of suggestions for under 25’s.
  • If you prefer to focus on strengthening your muscles, improving your balance and finding ways to calm the mind, you might find yoga or Pilates classes helpful. There are a number of online classes being offered free of charge which you can do alone or with another member of your household.
  • If you’re interested in the evidence that supports how exercise can help our mood, read this research study; ‘Exercise for depression’ by Cooney GM, Dwan K, Greig CA, Lawlor DA, Rimer J, Waugh FR, McMurdo M and Mead GE.

As part of structuring your daily routine, try to build in time for fun at home and with friends and family via virtual meet ups. You could hold family quizzes, learn to paint, play online games with friends, or set up challenges and competitions. These activities will help to introduce pleasure and enjoyment back into your day and may also give you a sense of achievement.

At the moment, many of us find ourselves feeling a bit flat and lacking in the positives. A great way to create positive bursts is to be silly and play games that don’t have a purpose, just to make you laugh! This may be easier if you have younger siblings to help, but if not, other options could include: dressing up in silly clothes, building a den, dancing to loud music, camping in the garden or in your bedroom, playing hide and seek in your house, singing or having a karaoke session, playing long forgotten boardgames, having a ‘cinema night’, making ice-cream or cup cakes, playing charades or experimenting with extreme make-up.

Here are a couple of resources with even more ideas to try: