Due to the Covid-19 lockdown last year, most professionals were forced to work from home, which took a toll on their mental health. Now, with the threat of the Omicron variant looming over the city, access to mental health resources is important again.
While working from home, 67 per cent of respondents said they did not feel connected to their colleagues, and 56 per cent found it hard to switch off after work, at home. Only one-third of respondents were offered mental health support by their employer.
On December 8, announcing the measures in the government’s plan B amid the spread of the Omicron variant, prime minister Boris Johnson declared the reintroduction of work from home.
“In the beginning it was all well and good, working in my pyjamas. But days turned into weeks that turned into months, and then it started getting to me. I was never awfully close to my co-workers, but I was used to seeing their faces every day. I can’t imagine going back to working remotely again. I just can’t”, says Amanda Cole, a marketing manager.
Poor mental health has been known to be further aggravated due to financial pressure. In London, more than 100 extra working hours are logged each year due to two extra hours of work per week over the UK average. According to a survey by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Londoners are saddled with more unmanageable debt than the average UK adult.
Speaking to Employee benefits, Dr. Serra Pitts, Clinical Director and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, said: “There is a strong link between financial worries and mental health problems. We are prone to bottling up how we feel about money because of sensitivities surrounding the subject, making things worse. Those who struggle with money worries are more than twice as likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, five times more likely to have troubled relationships, and eight times more likely to have sleepless nights.”
According to Public Health England, the level of mental health disorders in London varies by location. These figures include any type of depression and/or anxiety.
The highest number of people with Common Mental Disorders (CMD) in 2020, during lockdown, was said to be in Newham (64,544), followed by Lambeth (59,068), Tower Hamlets (55,856) and Croydon (55,088).
Ahana Appiah, a student pursuing her Master’s in clinical psychology from NYU, said: “A majority of today’s generation complain of stress. They can’t be blamed for the high-pressure environment created around them. It is imperative governments act on it by extending accessible mental health resources”.
The Mental health Bulletin, an annual report by NHS, shows that the number of people who use NHS-funded secondary mental health services in England is rising.
Of the 2,803,244 people known to be in contact with secondary mental health, learning disabilities and autism services in 2020-21, 768,083 of them were under 18 years of age.
Good Thinking, London’s free NHS-approved digital mental wellbeing service, expanded to provide young people aged 13-18 access to free resources and new NHS approved apps to improve their mental wellbeing and emotional resilience.
With omicron cases in the country doubling every 2-3 days, Londoners are bracing themselves for yet another unprecedented situation.