A return to ‘normality’?

31st May 2021

It’s the topic on everyone’s minds as coronavirus restrictions ease after a long period of lockdown. Many of us have been  desperately waiting for this moment. But for others, a return to normality, or a new version of it, is incredibly daunting. And for most of us, it’s probably a bit of both.

Our lives have changed enormously in the past year, and it’s difficult to even remember what ‘normal’ means. We know that most of us have found it challenging, and that the mental health and wellbeing of the entire nation has suffered; but that doesn’t mean that we’ll all find it easy to make our way back to how things were before. While some people will quickly get back into the swing of socialising and being in busy places again, it’s inevitable that many of us will struggle and need time and space to adjust. All of this will be particularly important given the uncertainty that lies ahead of us. We’ve already seen local outbreaks and new variants have already led to last minute changes to guidance.

During lockdown, a lot of us picked up new habits and coping mechanisms to get us through; and these might be helpful to remember as we transition away from restrictions, and continue to deal with this uncertainty. Things like going for a daily walk or meditating each morning are equally valid ways to gain a bit of headspace; and just because our diaries are looking busier, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still make the time to check in with our friends and family and make sure they’re ok.

We know from speaking to people with existing mental health problems that the coronavirus pandemic hit them hard. In a SAMH survey carried out last year, over half felt that their mental health had worsened; yet many struggled to get the support they needed, and over a quarter found that their specialist treatment or care stopped entirely.

The past year has seen our mental health systems challenged like never before; and as we navigate this return to pre-pandemic life, getting these services back up and running should of course be a priority. But when it comes to Scotland’s mental health, we’re clear that what we don’t want to see is a return to ‘normal’; instead we want to see ambitious and radical change to combat the growing mental health crisis.

SAMH Information Service can connect you with local mental health support and information. It operates 9am – 6pm Monday to Friday (except bank holidays). Email info@samh.org.uk or call 0344 800 0550.