Mental Health is our Buoyancy Aid in these difficult times

By Bill Vaughan, Development Officer in Donegal for Mental Health Ireland

Mental Health is our Buoyancy Aid in these difficult times

Mental health is very important during these testing times

We are all in this together on a scale we would never have imagined barely six months ago. Just think about it.

How would you have reacted if a stranger came up to you and explained in detail what was going to happen.

You would probably have laughed and sent them on their way. But look where we are now. Lives have been lost; countries or on lockdown; communities are on lockdown; families are on lockdown and some are completely isolated. But we have also seen how we naturally pull together at times like this. That instinctive feeling of wanting to help can be seen all around.

No one can say they have experienced a pandemic of this scale before. Every one of us has been thrown outside our “comfort zone.” Our daily routine that many of us are so used to and gives us a feeling of being safe and in control has been turned on its head. Think of your daily routine for the past few weeks and I am sure it is nothing like your normal weekly routine of six months ago.

Being outside our comfort zone usually tests us and our life skills including how we manage ourselves. So, several weeks into this global crisis I would like to propose that we all regularly ask ourselves these questions – how am I coping? What is my daily routine like these days? Am I finding it easy to put a structure in my day? How am I managing my mood/feelings? How am I coping with the uncertainty in my life? How am I coping with being on “lockdown” with the family?

The answers to these and so many other questions will depend on how we use our life skills and how aware we are of the importance of looking after our Mental Health.

But just think of this for a minute – where do we learn our skills for living as we grow up? Who sits us down when we are young and explains how important mental health and life skills are going to be for us when we become adults? We generally find out how resilient we are when we are thrown out of our normal routine. Common ways that this can happen to individuals include addiction, illness, job loss, relationship etc.

Only when something big comes along like a war or a pandemic do we see so many people forced outside their comfort zone. Now is the time for all of us to ask “How am I managing in this current crisis? How do we know how we are doing? Well your stress levels and your feelings are great indicators to guide you with this. Some of us may find that we are thriving and that’s great – no point trying to fix something that’s not broken. However, many of us are struggling and finding life very difficult.

Ironically, when we are forced outside our comfort zone it can become an opportunity to learn more about ourselves and how to cope. Like any skill this takes effort, patience and time, but the rewards are worth the journey. Anyone who works in the field of mental health and witnesses people overcome such things as dependency, low self-esteem, phobias etc who recover and go on to lead contented lives, can testify to this.

We have seen how beneficial social media can be lately and it is great to see how families have been able to keep in touch and share their experiences during these tough times.

The Donegal Post and Mental Health Ireland have teamed up and offer some advice and support in how to weather the storm in the weeks and months ahead.

Mental Health Ireland has been an innovator in the promotion of positive mental health and wellbeing in Ireland for almost half a century.

On our website you can find information about how to mind ourselves (see links below). Our campaign called “Five Ways to Wellbeing” explains practical ways to look after our wellbeing as well as other great resources about mental health and wellbeing. We have podcasts focusing on important topics like loneliness, technology and youth mental health, sleep, nutrition, mind-body connection, mental health and recovery We also have links to other great resources and services.

We are asking you, the readers, to contact us with what you are finding most difficult to deal with. We will process what comes in and then address these issues and highlight where support can be found in the following weeks issue. Obviously, we will not be highlighting specific or personal issues. We just recognise that we are all going to probably need a buoyancy aid over the next while.

Bill Vaughan is a Development Officer in Donegal for Mental Health Ireland.
Please email you issues/problems to bill@mentalhealthireland
Take care and see you all next week.

This article is part of a series of articles being run in the Donegal Post newspaper.

If you have a story or want to send a photo or video to us please contact the Donegal Live editorial team any time. To contact Donegal Democrat and Donegal People's Press, email To contact Donegal Post, email To contact Inish Times, email

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