Staying Sane & Coping During COVID-19
COVID-19 has brought about many complications when it comes to leading a somewhat normal life. Let’s just say it’s been difficult to remain upbeat through it all. Moreover, those of us in Hong Kong have really drawn the short straw when it comes to quarantine rules and regulations. With some of the harshest mandatory quarantine regimes, it has many people suffering through a very long 21 days of isolation in not-so-comfortable, cubicle-style rooms within eerie quarantine blocks. The pandemic has really taken its toll on the Asian community specifically as discrimination teamed with high family expectations have made it a long, hard road to walk, long before the world came to a standstill. This has brought about heightened mental health issues as a result. Still, mental illness remains largely misunderstood.
Mind Hong Kong (Mind HK), is a registered S88 charity (91/16471) committed to improving awareness and understanding of mental health in Hong Kong. They provide online resources and support, to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem.
In August to September 2020, Mind HK surveyed 1,010 randomly selected adults to get a better idea of the general public’s attitude towards mental health issues in Hong Kong. The results were revealing:
- 23% said that they would not be willing to work with someone with a mental health problem.
- 47% stated that they would not want to live next door to someone who is mentally ill.
- 46% believed that the main cause of mental illness is a lack of self-discipline and willpower.
- 22% said people with mental health problems should not be given any responsibility.
- 13.6% of them agreed that people with mental illness don’t deserve our sympathy.
Now, there’s a strong stigma around mental health within Asian communities for a few possible reasons, there is the concept of honour and saving face that people struggle with as they feel like they cannot be vulnerable or communicate to others as to what their needs are that need to be met. People are constantly expected to put their best face forward in order to not bring shame to their family and community. This could be the reason for the many people in the survey group believing that people with mental illness don’t deserve sympathy and that they don’t have self-discipline.
It has also been clear that there is a lack of access to helpful resources in Hong Kong. A huge 85.6% of people reported that, apart from hospitals, they didn’t know any other places where they could seek help for mental health issues.
Reducing stigma and raising awareness about the prevalence of mental health disorders and the effectiveness of seeking help is crucial. Mind HK and Jardine Matheson Group charity MINDSET united for the “More Than A Label” campaign this year to do just that. A bilingual (English and Traditional Chinese) book featuring 41 local, personal stories of journeys with mental health, illness and recovery was published during the campaign. You can download and read the book here.
- Information on disorders
- Resources for managing health during COVID
- Information on health professionals
- Support lines to contact for help
You can also participate in raising awareness through workshops, training sessions, and talks, in order to increase understanding of mental health in Hong Kong. Their programmes will give you the skills to provide guided self-help based on the principles of ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) to young people facing mild to moderate mental health problems.
Here are some tips and tricks to help you out and ease the day to day struggle and to help you feel a little bit lighter.
With its emphasis on breathing practices and meditation, both of which help calm and center the mind, it’s hardly surprising that yoga also brings mental benefits, such as reduced anxiety and depression. What may be more surprising is that it actually makes your brain work better.
Find a yoga studio near you here.
Listening to music can be entertaining, and some research suggests that it might even make you healthier. Music can be a source of pleasure and contentment, but there are many other psychological benefits as well. Music can relax the mind, energize the body, and even help people better manage pain. Learning to play a musical instrument has the same benefits.
For a feel-good playlist, listen here.
For a meditation music playlist, listen here.
Getting involved with the arts can have powerful and lasting effects on health. It can help to protect against a range of mental health conditions, help manage mental ill-health and support recovery. It could be any sort of art be it painting, pottery, paper mache, scrapbooking and more.
Find a class here.
There are many apps available that can help ease anxiety, stress and depression. One of the favourites is Calm, but you will need to find one that best suits you and your needs. Clam produces meditation products, including guided meditations and Sleep Stories.
Get Calm here.
A good night’s sleep can also help your mental wellbeing. A weighted blanket may help alleviate stress and give you a better night’s sleep. The blanket both hugs your body and grounds you, and each of these actions affects hormone levels, easing your anxiety. The simulated hug that a weighted blanket provides, can also release serotonin, a hormone that decreases stress. Look for one that’s 10 percent of your bodyweight, and make sure to read the product descriptions carefully before choosing.
6. FURRY FRIENDS
Did you know that animals can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, ease loneliness, encourage exercise and playfulness, and even improve your cardiovascular health? Although sometimes having a pet is not always an option unfortunately for some, be it because of finances or lack of space. But there is some good news! You can get your furry cuddle fix by volunteering at shelters. Not only will you be easing your anxiety but you will be doing some good for animals that need your help.
Find a shelter to volunteer at here.