I would like to start by saying Mental Health can affect anyone at any time. If you feel you are suffering from Mental Health issues please seek professional advice.

CONSIDERING MENTAL HEALTH

I find myself writing this as we reach a year of pandemic restrictions, and a couple of days after reading ‘Tyson Fury: Behind The Mask’. In the book, Fury talks about his journey trying to deal with mental health issues and specifically depression.

I started to think about the effect that the Covid Pandemic has had on mental health across the whole world. Statistics about whether there has been an increase during the Covid Pandemic are due to be released later this month (March 2021), but my opinion is that the number of people suffering with mental health conditions since the start of the pandemic will have increased significantly. 

"What's the bravest thing you've ever said?" asked the boy. "Help." said the horse.
Image source: ‘The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse’ by Charlie Mackesy

THE STATS

As reported in October 2020:
  • 1 in 4 people experience mental health issues each year
  • 792 million people are affected by mental health issues worldwide
  • People with a long-term mental health condition lose their jobs every year at around double the rate of those without a mental health condition. This equates to 300,000 people – the equivalent of the population of Newcastle or Belfast
  • 75% of mental illness (excluding dementia) starts before age 18 
  • Men aged 40-49 have the highest suicide rates in the UK
  • 70-75% of people with diagnosable mental illness receive no treatment at all
Source: MHFA England

ANYONE CAN BE AFFECTED

Tyson Fury recognised he was suffering from depression very soon after he had won his first World Titles. This proves that you can be affected at any time of your life, whether it is when you are the ‘Gypsy King’ of the World or after losing your job or someone close to you. Remember you are not alone and statistically 1 in 4 people you know will be suffering somehow.

There can be many reasons why someone may be suffering with Mental Health and usually it is a combination of factors. It could just be a simple thing or it could be one or more of the below:

  • social isolation or loneliness
  • experiencing discrimination and stigma
  • social disadvantage, poverty or debt
  • bereavement (losing someone close to you)
  • severe or long-term stress
  • having a long-term physical health condition
  • unemployment or losing your job
  • homelessness or poor housing
  • being a long-term carer for someone
  • drug and alcohol misuse
  • domestic violence, bullying or other abuse as an adult
  • significant trauma as an adult, such as military combat, being involved in a serious incident in which you feared for your life, or being the victim of a violent crime
  • physical causes – for example, a head injury or a neurological condition such as epilepsy can have an impact on your behaviour and mood.

Source: Mind.org.uk

COVID IS AMPLIFYING RISK FACTORS

On 5th March 2020, a statutory instrument was made into law that adds COVID-19 to the list of notifiable diseases. On 16th March 2020 the UK was put into its first lockdown. These dates are very significant when you look at the factors that can cause people to suffer from Mental Health. 

In the UK there were 8.2 million people living alone and 2.9 million single parent households last year. That is more people than the population of London who could be experiencing social isolation or loneliness. 

In the UK alone, the current number of deaths from Covid stands at around 122,000. This is the equivalent to the population of Exeter. Bereavement (losing someone close to you) is very difficult to deal with in a normal world and I speak from experience after losing my mum to cancer in 2018. In a Covid world where we have lost people unexpectedly and not been able to be with them, this is undoubtably harder to deal with. 

In January 2021 it was reported that 726,000 fewer people were in pay-rolled employment, compared to February 2020. On 13th December 2020, approximately 9.9 million jobs, from 1.2 million different employers, were also furloughed from their current employer. This is a group of people equivalent to the population of Devon, who could be struggling with unemployment or losing their job.

I have had my own issues I have been dealing with since 2018 but came to light in early 2020. I was made redundant from a job that I had held for 16 years in March 2018. I then had to deal with the loss of my mum in July 2018, who I had cared for since being made redundant. I dealt with those big losses in my life by distracting my thoughts and getting a new career, for which I must thank SQ for giving me a great opportunity. It wasn’t until I found myself on furlough in March 2020 and had a lot of time on my hands that I realised that I needed help. I finally got the support I needed from my GP and NHS Talking Therapies. I must also recommend a great book called ‘The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse’, by Charlie Mackesy, which was given to me by a loved one. 

DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP

In a world where as a man you are judged to be weak for showing emotions, it can be very difficult to admit to not coping or that you are struggling with mental health. This perception needs to change because anyone can suffer from mental health. If Tyson Fury can suffer from depression shortly after winning the IBF, WBA (Super) & WBO World Heavyweight Championship Belts from Wladimir Klitschko in 2015 and achieving his life dream, then anyone can also suffer. For anyone reading this who is struggling, know that it is not weakness, and to ask for help is the bravest thing you can do.

It is important to talk about how you are feeling and seek professional advice if you are experiencing any of the following : 

  • Excessive paranoia, worry, or anxiety.
  • Long-lasting sadness or irritability.
  • Extreme changes in moods.
  • Social withdrawal.
  • Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping pattern.
There are some great support groups you can seek advice from and it is important to find what works for you.  There are of course many other places you can get the support you need. 
Ant Pumfrey profile picture
Antony Pumfrey
Operations Manager, Spatial Quotient