Mar 272020

All of us have physical health and mental health. Just like our physical health, sometimes our mental health is not so good. Particularly in times of stress, as is the case during this coronavirus pandemic. It is well established that there is a close correlation between physical and mental health wellbeing.

It is vital that we all follow the government’s advice on social distancing and isolation to minimise the impact of the coronavirus on the more vulnerable members of our community. But social isolation and social distancing is leaving many people feeling anxious and low in mood. In addition, many patients with pre-existing mental health difficulties are finding their usual support being temporarily unavailable.

Lots of the population will be facing financial stress over uncertainty of work.

Patients will have previously arranged hospital appointments and procedures delayed or cancelled.

Many will be worrying about family and friends who are elderly, vulnerable or key workers.

Parents will be pushed to new limits, caring for children physically and emotionally. Tasked with educating and entertaining them at home, without usual support and trying to work.

It is particularly important that we look after our mental health in these challenging times. We have put together some resources and advice that we hope will provide some additional support over the coming months. Of course, many of the charities will not be offering a face to face service in view of the pandemic but may be able to offer support online or by telephone instead.


  • iThrive: an up-to-date mental health information website which provides a directory of mental health services in Edinburgh, mental health fact sheets, and links to mental health information.
  • Steps for Stress: Scottish government publication and simple guide to stressing less and enjoying life more
  • SAMH: a Scottish MH charity with information, advice and tips about mental health problems and online support
  • Feeling Good App: Developed by the Positive Mental Health Foundation. This is a video and audio programme which can be downloaded on to iPhones, iPads, Android phones and tablets.
  • NHS endorsed mental health APPS: A variety of apps designed to provide techniques to reduce stress, anxiety, low mood and encourage relaxation and mental health well being
  • Living Life telephone based CBT: NHS 24 offers a specialist telephone support service for people using the online Living Life to the Full computerised CBT life skills course. Living Life is open from Monday to Thursday 10am to 9pm and Friday 10am to 6pm on free phone 0800 328 9655. You can just self refer. Further information is available at or from the Edspace website.
  • Financial Advice: A quick guide to “crisis response” resources to help individuals with immediate essential living costs.


  • Support for Families in SE Edinburgh: this is an 8 page resource with link to free or low-cost activities and support available during COVID-19, under the headings, ‘Support and Information for Parents and Carers’, ‘Additional Support Needs’, ‘Support for Black and Minority Ethnic Families’, ‘Support for Young People’, ‘Family Activities’, ‘Financial Support and Advice’ and ‘Community Food’.
  • Online Resource for Parents and Carers: The Scottish Government has announced that all families in Scotland will have free access to the Solihull Online resource for parents and carers from the antenatal period to 19 years. Solihull Online offers a series of modules containing interactive activities, quizzes and video clips. To access the free courses, families need to use the access code TARTAN



  • NHS CAHMS Covid Resources: Useful resources for parents and carers, children and young people and those with autism, neurodevelopmental disorders and/or learning disability
  • NHS CAHMS Online Resources: Further well-being and mental health information for parents, as well as children and young people is available on the NHS Lothian CAMHS website
  • Hands On Scotland: a website that provides help and practical advice for supporting children and young people’s mental health and emotional wellbeing. It has been created by Fife CAHMS team (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service)
  • Young Scot: National youth information and citizenship charity for 11-26 year olds


Anyone who is struggling with their mental health will benefit from a holistic approach, looking after all aspects of their health. 

Regular healthy nutrition

  • Reduce processed foods high in sugar and salt
  • Aim for 5 portions of fruits and veg a day
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Buy frozen fruit
  • Grow your own fruit and veg
  • Consider batch cooking and freezing portions
  • Live Well Eat Well

Reduction in alcohol consumption

No more than 14 units a week for men or woman, spread throughout the week and with several days of alcohol free

Regular exercise

  • Go for a walk at a quiet time round the block taking care to social distance.
  • Cycle to work if you cannot work from home
  • Consider a home exercise programme in your garden
  • Fitness Studio exercise video: NHS range of free online exercise including aerobic, strength and resistance, yoga and Pilates, dance including Latino and belly dancing
  • Follow “Just dance” videos free on YouTube
  • There are many celebrities doing free online exercises classes, e.g.
  • Fit for health: this is an exercise programme delivered by Edinburgh Leisure Leisure in partnership with NHS Lothian for people with long term health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, heart failure or diabetes/at risk of developing diabetes.
  • Edinburgh Leisure: Edinburgh Leisure general advice about Fitness at Home during Coronavirus including online exercises and workouts


It is easy to let routines slip and become nocturnal when you become depressed. Difficulty getting off to sleep can be a sign of depression, whilst frequent early wakening a sign of anxiety. It is important to maintain a normal awake/sleep routine

Relaxation and Recreation

  • Limiting screen time, particularly in the evenings
  • Maintain social contact using online video conferencing tools
  • Maintain routine even if working from home. Don’t work in the evenings and weekends, but ensure you start at the usual time, stopping for coffee and lunch
  • Be realistic at what you can achieve in your day
  • Use extra time at home to finish projects that have been annoying you
  • Read a novel or download a book
  • Take up new hobbies or learning opportunities
    e.g Take a virtual tour of a Museum with Google Institute
  • Take 10 minutes out each day to practice MINDFULNESS
    • Notice the everyday
    • Keep it regular
    • Try something new
    • Watch your thoughts
    • Name thoughts and feelings
    • Free yourself from past and future
  • Headspace
  • Mindful breathing exercise video on YouTube

Have a plan for a Crisis

Particularly at times of prolonged heightened stress and social isolation, it is important to reach out if you are significantly stressed or overwhelmed. We are open for telephone consultations in our usual hours for advice and support. In addition, below are some other crisis numbers