June 12, 2020

Mental Health During Lockdown : An Interview With Prof Hugh Koch

In this episode of the HJ Talks About Abuse Podcast, Alan Collins speaks with Clinical Psychologist and visiting professor at Birmingham City University, Hugh Koch, about the impact of lockdown on mental health.

Specifically, they discuss lockdown related anxiety. 

Hugh writes a weekly blog about lockdown related anxiety and brings some of his observations from that endeavour to this conversation. Most of us have experienced some form of lockdown related anxiety over the last 12 weeks from difficulties adjusting to new working patterns, family dynamics, loneliness and isolation. 

There are a few main ways to avoid lockdown anxiety:

  1. To control our schedules and routines to make sure that we stay connected to others
  2. To be aware of the way that we think during lockdown
  3. It's also important to have positive views of our abilities and those of our peers and the country as a whole to eventually be able to come out the other side of this crisis
  4. Finally, we need to be able to manage our feelings by focussing on the kinds of things that will help us to stay nice and calm.

Hugh also talks about the need for doing exercises that help us to focus on our breathing as well as tensing and relaxing different parts of our bodies to allow us to loosen up and let go of our anxiety.

Connecting to our main subject of abuse, Hugh answers Alan's question about how adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse should deal with anxiety as they also have to deal with their past experiences on top of lockdown related stresses.

Hugh's advice is that whatever has happened in the past is in the past and today can be the first day of the next phase. This next phase can involve being clear with yourself about what you can change starting today that will make a positive impact on you. Maybe it is going for a walk and saying hello to five people or looking at the world around you and identifying aspects that are pleasant. Even making a phone call to show an interest in someone else's life story can have a big impact. 

It's obvious that the complex issues faced by adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse cannot be solved by a few minutes on a podcast, but these strategies can be a starting point from which real healing can stem. 

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