Managing mental health problems and symptoms

Over the last few months, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our daily life and our mental wellbeing. It is normal to feel worried, sad, or even angry, given everything going on. This is especially true for individuals who have been facing a mental health condition – we know it has been a difficult time for many. It is important to note that not everyone with an existing mental health problem is vulnerable or unable to cope;  people may cope differently depending on their situation. Reach out to them to learn more about their situation and how you can best support them.

We have put together some resources for individuals who are experiencing a mental health problem to support them in managing their mental health during this time, as well as for people around them to learn more about how friends and family can help.

 

What should I do about my medication/appointments?

  • Hospital out-patient clinic arrangement
    • If you have travelled in the past 14 days, or you do not feel comfortable attending an appointment in the hospital or clinic, please call the clinic or hospital to reschedule for an appointment.
    • If you are running out of medication, please contact the clinic or hospital. Hospital staff may be able to arrange a medication refill for you. Please bring along your appointment slip and HKID to collect your refill.
      Contact information for the public mental healthcare system.
  • Seeking help through the private sector
    • If you do not feel comfortable attending an appointment, please contact the clinic to discuss alternative options with your therapists, such as reschedule or opt for a phone or video call appointment.

 

What if my symptoms worsen? 

  • It is important to monitor mood/changes in mood, check-in with how you are doing on a weekly or even daily basis (early recognition can make getting back on track easier).
  • Try to revisit and remind yourself of existing coping strategies that you may have previously learnt, and of which, may have helped you before.
  • If your symptoms are worsening and you do not have professional support in place, consider whether now might be a good time to seek some additional help. If you are waiting for an appointment, contact the service to let them know that things are feeling more difficult – they may be able to offer you an earlier appointment. If you are unsure where to seek help, please visit our seeking help page and Community Directory.
  • If you are already accessing support, know that recovery is never linear. There will be bumps along the road, and times that things will feel worse than others.

 

Will I still be hospitalised in the current situation?

  • The situation caused by COVID-19 is constantly changing, and many hospitals and clinics will likely be under more pressure/strain. But even so, usual measures and procedures are likely to still be in place.
  • Whether you will be hospitalised, will likely be determined on a case-by-case basis. If you are concerned, try to speak to your mental health provider or a healthcare professional.

 

What if I want to harm myself or feel suicidal?

  • If you feel unable to stop yourself from acting on suicidal thoughts, it is important that you seek immediate support. You might found the following services helpful. For additional services, please visit our ‘Find help now’ webpage:
      • The Samaritans Hong Kong 24hr Hotline: 2896 0000
      • The Samaritan Befrienders Hong Kong 24hr Hotline: 2389 2222
      • Suicide Prevention Services 24hr Hotline: 2382 0000
      • Suicide Prevention Services (Elderly) 24hr Hotline: 2382 0881
      • Caritas Family Crisis Support Centre 24hr Hotline: 18288
      • Baptist Oi Kwan Social Service (Adult) 24hr Hotline w social worker: 2535 4135
  • Get through the next 5 minutes by distracting yourself: Focusing on your senses (what you can see, touch, smell or hear) can help you to ground your thoughts.
  • Remove anything you use to harm yourself.
  • Identify what you have done in the past that has helped you to cope (i.e. going for a walk, reminding myself of alternative ways of looking at things), or a safe place you can access.
  • Talk to someone about how you’re feeling.
  • It can be helpful to work with a mental health professional to develop a safety plan that you can use at times of distress.
  • If you are unable to keep yourself safe, or you have harmed yourself right now, please call 999 or go to the Accident & Emergency of your local hospital authority.

 

What if I am unable to access my usual support network? (i.e. see friends, attend peer support/self-help groups, attend appointments face-to-face, etc.)

  • Reach out to your existing support team and/or mental health professionals.
  • Try to make a plan with your support team and/or mental health professionals.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for a little extra help around how you can cope, given all the changes that are happening. It’s likely that you’re not the only one.
  • Try to find alternative ways to build and maintain connections (e.g. using Zoom, phone calls, etc.), which will allow you to stay connected with people.

 

What if I am unable to utilise my existing coping strategies?

  • It’s important to try to find alternative ways of coping/new ways of coping.
  • Attend to the ‘basics’ (try not to overlook the basics’), i.e, eating well, sleeping well, exercising and staying active, either inside or outside, and staying hydrated.
  • Maintain a routine or establish a new one.
  • If there are things you previously did that you can’t now do, think about what you gained from doing that particular activity (e.g.a sense of achievement? Or chances to connect with others?) and see if there is another way to gain it from another activity that you CAN do.
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