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BLUE JANUARY

We’re in a third lockdown, Londoners’ stress, depression and anxiety levels are soaring and antidepressant use is at an all-time high. Welcome to the age of the Covid mental health crisis. So how on earth can we piece ourselves back together again? Kate Wills reports

Just when you thought January couldn’t get any bleaker, along comes a third lockdown — the worst sequel yet. If you’re feeling lower than ever, you’re definitely not alone. Experts are calling it ‘pandemic fatigue’ — after so long living with the stress of the coronavirus hanging over us, we’re exhausted and demotivated. According to the Londoners I spoke to for this piece, Covid-19 has been ‘disastrous’, a ‘hellscape’, a ‘sledgehammer’ and ‘a complete and utter shitshow’ for mental health.

Whether you are battling the virus or its aftermath, attempting to home-school while simultaneously doing your actual job, dealing with the loss of a loved one, panicking about your work or financial situation, barely able to get dressed or simply bored out of your brain, you’ll be hard pushed to find someone whose sanity hasn’t been tested — and continues to be challenged.

Although January is always a big month for self-help books, this year it’s dominated by a slew of titles addressing mental illness, from Oliver Kamm’s investigation into depression, Mending The Mind, to Bryony Gordon’s memoir, No Such Thing As Normal, to the no-nonsense Get A Grip, Love, by Kate Lucey. Although the vaccine means there is light at the end of the tunnel, experts predict a psychological pandemic that will far outlast the physical one.

“Many of us have just been in survival mode for so long, using all our effort just to function and stay afloat, so now we’re seeing a crash”

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“I think the turn of the new year was the hardest for a lot of people. It’s a time to get nostalgic and think about the things you have or haven’t done, and this year so much was lost”

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“People have been pushed to their limits by this virus, but it has forced them to find new ways to be resilient”

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For information on mental health issues, including coping with lockdown, visit mind.org.uk or call 0300 123 3393 (9am-6pm, Mon-Fri)

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