Question:

Has your mental health been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Results:

Yes – 69% (50 respondents) No –  31% (22 respondents)

Your Comments:

Impact on Mental Health

The current crisis and lockdown restrictions have had a significant impact on the mental health and wellbeing of some respondents. This includes an increase in stress, anxiety, and depression.

“When in a 12-week lockdown and you cannot see your family, it is not a nice place to be in mentally.”

“Lockdown is causing stress, depression, and claustrophobia.”

“Being blind and hearing impaired the only activity I have is to walk my guide dog daily which becomes monotonous after a time, especially if one’s choice of routes is limited. One of the consequences of this lockdown is that, if you are well over 70, you can become very introspective which invariably tends to be negative, which is not at all helpful.”

“I suffer from depression and feel or have felt in a low mood more so since COVID-19.”

“I was having regular visits to a mental health team over many years, talking, support, medication reviews, etc. but it all stopped at lockdown. I have not seen anyone since late February. I received a telephone call after 7 weeks checking on me. Staff now working from home or part in office but not actually seeing anyone. I feel abandoned and very alone.”

“I am going stir crazy, but at the same time I’m scared to leave.”

“Not being able to go out and see people, go to work and just live my life is draining. My poor husband has everything to do and this is unfair.”

“Lack of NHS support directly attributable to the lockdown and the local mental health team resorting to telephone consultation. At the current time due to loss of physical contact with the team and essential support I am feeling increasingly isolated, alone, and my mental health is certainly declining, mood dropping and psychosis becoming more complex.” 

Accessing Mental Health Services

Some respondents were concerned by the lack of information that is available on how to access mental health services. In some cases, alternative methods have been introduced, such as phone consultations. These methods may not be accessible for people with different types of disabilities, including hearing impairments.

“I don’t really know how to start conversations to get support and it’s hard to get help when you’re aware that everyone is finding it hard. I don’t want to take away from someone else.”

“I have no contact with any mental health services. I don’t know how to access them.”

“I don’t know who to talk to. Anyway, when I have tried to phone anyone, the line is engaged.”

“I have been so low that my wife who is my care giver phoned my community nurses who are not visiting at this time due to COVID-19. It resulted in a phone call from my GP and who pointed out support available.”

“In general, I feel totally overwhelmed by the volume of information that has been circulating during the COVID-19 crisis. Much of it is in written form and my work is also very text heavy. I reach saturation point during my working day so have no capacity to take in any more information through written communication after I have finished working.”

“I am told that due to lockdown, counselling is available by telephone only. But that is no use at all to a deaf person.”

Improvements

There were suggestions on what needs to change to improve access to mental health services, including increased funding and greater access and awareness to GP support.

“There needs to be a lot more money invested in the NHS to allow people to have rapid access to mental health services, especially in the light of issues related to coronavirus.”

“Definitely need more help and more resources in place. This has been a difficult time.”

“There must be better access to GP support.”

“Just listen please, no one has any idea how it feels being in lockdown and disabled. Someone to talk to is important.”

“Make services more accessible to people who have a visual impairment.”

Summary

The comments we received from our members highlight the impact COVID-19 has had on the mental wellbeing of disabled people in Scotland. Concerns are raised about access to vital mental health services and the importance of offering these services in a variety of accessible formats. This summary report is shared with the Scottish Government to help inform their response to COVID-19. We also share the report with relevant ministers and key stakeholders.