You’re not alone: how to survive lockdown 3.0 |

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the prospect of returning to yet another lockdown poses us all a challenging start to the new year but my next guest might have some useful tips on how to look after your mental well-being during these unprecedented times uh joining us now the psychotherapist lucy beresford and the amy dr alex george himself has recently started a campaign calling on boris johnson to meet with him to discuss improving mental health education in schools guys lovely to have you on the program this morning okay brass tacks we’re all feeling a bit grim this morning i don’t know about you but i can speak personally that you know you wake up this morning knowing you’re gonna have to come in and read this news out hour after hour after hour and it doesn’t exactly fill me with joy i mean lucy to you first i suppose the starting point in all of this is to say to people you know don’t worry you know plenty of people will be feeling exactly the same as you this morning that’s very true and it does help to know that you’re not alone that other people are perhaps struggling and that if you could reach out to them or they reach out to you that can be very supportive but the problem is we’ve already had two lockdowns we know what they’re like the study from the university of cambridge came out only recently which talked about how negative the impact on the mental health of our young people in particular the effect of lockdown one was and now we’re in lockdown three so our anxiety is partly about how to get through the current predicament but it’s also about knowing that it has this really long legacy of affecting and actually damaging our mental health and i think the campaign that dr alex is trying to initiate with boris is absolutely spot on because we all need to pay attention to our mental health but we adults have quite a lot more resources available to us to take care of our mental health our younger people let’s say people under the age of about 22 they have fewer resources they can’t necessarily implement so many uh activities in order to protect their mental health so we have to do that for them alex then an appropriate moment for you to tell us a bit more about your campaign whether or not mr johnson has answered the phone call yet and and organized the meeting but but also tell us just a little bit you know you are someone who has worked on the front line during this pandemic you yourself must have had to come up with some coping mechanisms absolutely good morning neil good morning lucian first thank you lucy so much for your support i think it’s been very important to me to have um experts such as yourself actually saying alex what you’re doing is right and we do want change i think that’s what i’ve seen over the last few months ever since my brother passed away i’ve been speaking you know behind the scenes really to mental health organizations some of the biggest ones in this country and educational leads teachers parents students schools to find out more information about what’s really going on and what we can change i think there’s been a unanimous agreement that there needs to be change there isn’t enough support at schools there’s not enough education at an early enough age to prepare children properly for the challenge we face and ultimately just as lucy said there what this pandemic is going to do to the mental health of young people is quite honestly frightening suicide rates are on the rise mental health diagnosis are increasing and it scares me i think it scares everyone and i think everyone’s ready for for change so that’s why i started this campaign i really want to speak to to the prime minister uh and his team um i have here had initial discussions with um some of some of his team and i’m very hopeful that we can arrange a meeting and that we can start making change because this needs to happen we’re all ready for it to happen so let’s do it now before before things get even worse than they already are i mean lucy again not nodding along as you were commenting there alex i mean it’s now is that is the key word in all of that isn’t it lucy is making sure is starting the preparations now for whatever lies down the road and indeed making sure that young people are aware of the assistance that might be available to them yes two things to say about that one we’ve got a golden opportunity to all of us start protecting our mental health going forward this isn’t just about the pandemic this isn’t just about a sticking plaster for the next few weeks or months this is about instituting some really important changes in schools in education in hospitals and in the wider society to make sure that our mental health is protected going forward beyond the pandemic when coveted is no more but absolutely right we need to reinforce the message to our young people that there are places where they can go people that they can talk to particularly young minds is a fantastic website they’ve got brilliant helplines so if you are struggling that’s where you can actually go and reach out and get some support so don’t be afraid to ask for help certainly in schools we need to introduce mental health into the curriculum asap particularly now we know that schools are going to be closing and exams are going to be cancelled that’s going to really affect the the well-being of our young people and they need to know that they’ve got some support but also staying active staying proactive the way to get through a very difficult situation like this is to recognize what you can’t change and recognize what you can change there is a lot about this that we are not in control of grown-ups as well as youngsters but we if we can focus on the things that we can change which are things like sleep protocol what we eat how much exercise we’re taking how much we’re interacting with other people how much we’re doing for other people kind gestures for other people make them feel great but also make you feel good how much nature we’re immersing ourselves in and i speak as someone who’s based in central london but there is quite a lot of nature that you can bring to you spotting different leaves having window boxes on your window so that birds can come to your window even if you don’t have a garden lots of resources lots of tips to make sure that every single day you’ve got some structure you’ve got some self-care and you’ve got people to talk to and i just want to get a final word but there’s so much information in there lucy that we will retweet a little bit later on for people to get some ideas but but but alex the final word from you i mean 2020 was was clearly for many many people an awful year for you more horrible than for most i would i would suspect how have you managed to to to hold on to the positivity that you’ve been able to express to our viewers this morning it’s been it’s been very hard it’s been tough and i think sometimes um you just don’t expect the situations you find yourself in life there’s a there’s a quote that actually got me through what happened to my brother and there was a life process into the deep end you know at times with family and friends uh we can overcome seemingly the most insurmountable challenges and i believe that to be true we we get through it together ultimately and we find a way i’ve really kind of incorporated some of the tips that lucy talked about there i i also live in central london but i make sure i get outside and walk every day i try and get some natural light i try and be around green spaces even if i had a busy day i do 20 30 minutes of exercise every day and it really helps and those little things add up to make a big difference and and what i would say very importantly for children you know like lucy who’s saying they can’t necessarily do these things themselves we need to put them in place for them help them support them what we’re going to see the fallout we’re going to see after this pandemic is going to be huge especially with what’s just happened yesterday closing the schools it’s going to get bigger let’s not ignore it let’s make let’s make change so please boris johnson your team can we meet and discuss some of the changes that we can make some things we can do that will make a difference um and just alex just very very briefly because we are about to run out of time what what needs to happen in schools and at what age okay so i mean there’s quite a few steps i’d like to make but it needs to incorporate all children we need to be going from years three and four years old all the way up to 18.

We need to be integrating a really um quality curriculum around mental health you know teaching children about thoughts and feelings as they grow up or how to look after themselves what to do when things go wrong we also need to teach teachers better around mental health to support them because a lot of the things i’ve heard from teachers are saying but we’ve been asked to teach it but we haven’t been taught we haven’t been given the information we haven’t been supported ourselves we need to support the teachers to do the job that they want to do and we also need to provide support in all schools i believe all schools should have a full-time counsellor it will help with children you know staying in school if they’re struggling they can reach out for support there and have immediate support at hand so those are just some of the things i want to change and those are things we can do it can be done it has been done in some schools we need to make it nationwide and it will make a difference i’m sure well the one bit of advice that i will provide and it’s entirely inspired by the chess set over your right shoulder there alex a game of correspondence chess there are plenty of people around the world wanting to to play with you they’re all out there waiting alex george lucy beresford wishing you both uh very very well and thanks for joining us on the program this morning andrew neil thank you

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