The Covid-19 pandemic has affected all of us, with recent research showing an increase in anxiety and depression. Elysium Healthcare’s Assistant Psychologist, Manisha Guru, from Potters Bar Clinic discusses how our younger residents have been affected and what we are doing to help support their mental health and decrease their Covid anxiety.
During an anxiety-provoking event such as Covid, it was understandable that many young people on the wards fell into negative thinking traps. It was noted that many young people became disengaged with the current DBT (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy) groups and many expressed anxiety around managing the restrictiveness which came with Covid.
To address these concerns, the Psychology Department devised a support group called ‘Coping with Covid’, to give the young people a medium to ventilate anxieties while also teaching how DBT skills can support them to manage these feelings.
Using ‘Wise Mind’ skills, the group worked to support residents in being able to recognise and respect their feelings around Covid and equally respond to them in a rational manner. Wise Mind skills are used to help people who are conditioned to invalidate their experience and encourage using both emotion and intellect to make decisions, supporting better judgement and balanced decision making.
The group also explored the skills of ‘Dialectics’ to recognise there is always more than one way to see a situation and there is more than one way to solve a problem. Young people were asked how they are feeding their ‘Information Diet’ and explored how to use the DBT skills ‘Check the Facts’.
Due to the uncontrollable nature of Covid, the group explored more effective ways of dealing with difficulties that we cannot control. This included exploring the skill of ‘Radical Acceptance’ in order to allow reality to be what it is in the moment, even if it contains pain.
As part of the group therapy, young residents were taught how to hold in mind that change is the only constant, and to reframe their thinking from ‘I am stuck inside’ to ‘I can focus on myself’. Using these DBT skills of ‘Validation’ to instil daily self-love and gratitude.
In order for the young people to self soothe and attempt opposite action, i.e. doing something to decrease a difficult emotion, they were provided four challenges to action a happier lifestyle during this time. These included:
- Each day, writing three good things that happened, including why those things were good
- On one day of the week, do as many extra acts of kindness for others as possible
- Give your mind breathing space for 10 minutes each day
- Do something physically active (and enjoyable!) for at least 10 minutes – and ideally more – each day