UK mental health experts have warned that the easing of coronavirus lockdown and the subsequent return to schools, workplaces and social events could trigger stress and anxiety for many people.
Those with mental health issues will be particularly anxious about the readjustment of life coming with the lifting of restrictions, they said on Saturday.
“Lockdown has given people with mental health conditions like anxiety and PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders) permission to stay at home, and knowing that at some point you’ll have to go out again can actually trigger stress and anxiety,” Tine Van Bortel, a senior research associate in public health at the University of Cambridge, as saying to The Guardian newspaper.
Rosie Weatherley, an information content manager at mental health charity Mind, said: “Some of us might have found there were some unexpected plus points to lockdown, and therefore feel uneasy or anxious at the prospect of it being lifted. For example, we may be worried about ‘normality’ resuming, or not wanting to return to a faster pace with busier daily lives, and less downtime to ourselves.”
It was “really important” for government and employers to provide empathy and support for those who need it “beyond lockdown lifting”, she said.
On February 22, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his long-anticipated “roadmap” exiting the lockdown. The March 8 reopening of schools in England was the first part of the four-step plan, which Johnson said was designed to be “cautious but irreversible”. The “roadmap” is expected to see all legal restrictions in England being removed by mid-June. Other parts of Britain, including Wales and Scotland, have also unveiled plans to ease the restrictions. Experts have warned Britain is “still not out of the woods” amid concerns over new variants and the risks of the public breaching restriction rules.