The impact of the crisis
People turn to Samaritans for many different reasons including mental health or illness, family, debt and relationship problems. The charity provides emotional support to anyone in emotional distress, struggling to cope, or at risk of suicide across the UK and Ireland 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Every year Samaritans volunteers spend over one million hours responding to calls for help. Samaritans’ service is as vital now as it has ever has been.
With the theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week being kindness, now is an important moment to reflect on the power of being kind to ourselves and to each other.
Since the outbreak of coronavirus and implementation of lockdown, 1 in 3 calls to Samaritans helpline have mentioned coronavirus specifically and callers are reporting higher levels of anxiety than before lockdown.
People are understandably concerned about being separated from loved ones. As well as missing people they are separated from, there can be tensions within households through forced lockdown, and these household tensions can lead to arguments or strained relationships.
A UCL study of over 90,000 people is exploring changes to people’s wellbeing as lockdown progresses. This shows that one of the groups most affected is people living with children. Compared to those living with other adults, they are reporting feeling more lonely, having lower life satisfaction, experiencing more stressors, and having poorer mental health().
Helping us all be kind to ourselves
Kindness matters now more than ever.
Each and every one of us can discover our connection to one another with small acts of kindness, and show ourselves kindness too.
Samaritans is encouraging people to be kind to themselves and look after their emotional wellbeing this Mental Health Awareness Week and beyond with the launch of a new, free Self-Help app. At a time when kindness, especially to ourselves, has never been more important, Samaritans Self-Help offers people practical ways to cope and stay safe if they’re going through a difficult time.
Samaritans CEO Ruth Sutherland says: “We’re pleased to be able to launch our new self-help app and provide another channel of support for people during this challenging and worrying time. We know that the need for digital resources to support our mental wellbeing has never been greater, particularly when access to face-to-face support services and networks might be limited.”
Samaritans Self-Help is launching during Mental Health Awareness Week but is the product of two years’ work. The launch of the app has been brought forward in the hope that it will prove a valuable tool for those observing social distancing, facing prolonged isolation or lacking the privacy to make a call to the helpline.
A community of kindness
New social distancing and self-isolation rules are changing the way we keep in touch. Now more than ever, we need to look out for one another and support colleagues. Reaching out to someone can make a big difference if they’re going through a tough time.
This Mental Health Awareness Week, Samaritans is encouraging everyone to be kind to others with the creation of new online resources for people who are supporting someone who is struggling. It includes practical ways for people to look after themselves when they are supporting others. The new guidance has been designed to give everyone the tools and confidence to support the people around them.
There are also tools available for employers looking for ways to support employees with their emotional wellbeing. Samaritans’ Wellbeing in the Workplace is an online tool which brings Samaritans’ listening and wellbeing expertise into the workplace and give employees the skills to look after their emotional health and look out for others, before they reach crisis point.
Now more than ever, a little kindness can go a long way. Just being there to listen can make all the difference.
Samaritans’ helpline is available round the clock and can be contacted by phone or email. Call 116 123 free or email [email protected].
 A ‘call for help’ is any contact made to Samaritans for support, whether by phone, email, text, face to face in branch, in prisons or though our outreach work. This figure is based on the 2017 calendar year. A ‘caller’ is anyone who has accessed our service, whether by phone or by any other means.
Matthew Lock is Head of Corporate Partnerships at Samaritans. He leads strategic partnerships with businesses across the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, and supports organisations to promote workplace wellbeing with programmes such as Wellbeing in the Workplace and Wellbeing in Retail. He has extensive experience of strategic partnerships in both corporate and charity sectors.