Hampshire mental health charity offers support for those concerned about COVID-19 jab

Thousands of clinically vulnerable people in Hampshire are being encouraged to get their COVID-19 jabs, with practical support being offered by a local mental health charity and other community services.

Hampshire’s leading mental health charity Solent Mind has teamed up with local health services and other local Minds to offer practical and emotional support for people who are clinically vulnerable – many of whom may have mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia and are often more likely to have anxiety around vaccinations.

Clinically vulnerable local people are being asked to call Solent Mind’s Support Line, where they can chat to a friendly adviser and share any concerns they may have or find out how they can access free transport to vaccination centres.

Emma Fernandes from Solent Mind said: “The COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness and will only be available on the NHS once they have been thoroughly tested to make sure they are safe and effective.

“We are aware of lots of misinformation out there and many people may be feeling anxious. Their own wellbeing may act as a barrier and some people will find the anxiety of going to a centre too difficult or fear a panic attack in public.

“We want people to know that we are here to discuss and offer practical and emotional support to them at this time. We will also be proactively contacting local people to offer this support and we would also encourage those who feel worried to call our Support Line and we can help reassure their fears and offer practical help where necessary.”

36-year-old Abby Oakley from Southampton has bipolar disorder. She had the COVID-19 vaccination recently (23 February) and says it has helped to take away any worries she had.

Abby said: “During the pandemic, it’s been hard not being able to see friends and family who contribute to my positive mental health. Also not being able to do day to day things I would normally do to form a routine.

“I was very ill in June last year with my Bipolar, which was really hard, I didn’t want to get out of bed and was eating a lot of bad food to compensate for feeling so bad. I wasn’t doing any exercises or seeing anyone, so I found it really hard plus my husband had gone back to work which I struggled with.

“I think having the vaccine will help me as it will make me feel more safe and not so paranoid. It will take the worry away. I want to be able to life my life again to stay well and not become ill.”

Solent Mind offers the following advice for people concerned about getting the COVID-19 jab:

  • Look to trusted sources of information such as the nhs.uk and gov.uk websites. Be wary of articles and information posted on social media.
  • Try not to overthink the prospect of having the injection which can cause anxiety in the days leading up to your appointment. Use mindfulness or distraction techniques to help.
  • Bring a supportive family member or friend to your appointment to offer additional reassurance.
  • Be open and honest with medical staff about any fears you may have and know you are not alone in how you feel.
  • Use distraction techniques to help you get through the process of having the injection. Look at what’s around you, focus on an object or use breathing techniques.

For practical support and advice, call the team at Solent Mind on 023 8017 9049, open weekdays 8am-8pm and weekends 9am-5pm.

For further information on the COVID-19 vaccination visit: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/coronavirus-vaccine/

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