As the impact of COVID-19 evolved in early 2020, the Good Thinking team quickly made changes to our service so that we could offer better support to Londoners. We understood that people might be feeling anxious, stressed or struggling with other mental health concerns.
In challenging times, it can be hard to think and hard to know where to turn. Social media and Google searches present you with so many options and so much advice that it can become even more confusing. Opinions on what to do can also be strong and not always correct. When you add the uncertainty that a new type of virus brings, feeling anxious about your health is inevitable.
Some of the actions we took at Good Thinking to improve the mental health of Londoners during the COVID-19 pandemic are listed below. You can find further details in our 2020/21 insights report.
In February 2020, we worked closely with Public Health England (the former executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care) to understand how COVID-19 might affect the mental health of people across London. Together, we reviewed the research on what happened to those affected by previous outbreaks of infectious disease, such as the SARS virus. This helped us to identify the areas where stress could occur – being quarantined or self-isolated was a key issue.
We were also able to draw on our work with the tech sector, particularly with Moderators and Community Managers who work from home for most of their working life. We realised that adjusting to working from home during lockdowns might be an issue for some Londoners. Managing stress, anxiety and practising good self-care were areas where we knew Good Thinking could help.
We worked with DoctorLink, which powers our clinically-validated self-assessment tool, to ensure that all self-assessments not only gave advice on any mental health difficulties but included extra questions about COVID-19 symptoms and information about next steps.
DoctorLink informed us that our self-assessments were updated regularly in line with Public Health England guidance on COVID-19. Good Thinking users can see when the most recent update took place (the latest one was in April 2022).
Patients displaying COVID-19 symptoms were asked additional questions during their self-assessment, including about where they had travelled and whether they had exposure to anyone affected by the virus or any confirmed cases.
Our self-assessments were also of value to those with past mental health difficulties who could check out privately how they were doing during the pandemic and when to seek further help.
Here at Good Thinking, we strive to provide Londoners with effective apps, resources and information for free. We have learned from both research and from our work with those who are stressed and struggling with burnout what makes a difference. Our quick quizzes and self-assessments for anxiety, stress, low mood and sleep continued to be popular ways to find personalised resource recommendations and we identified new resources that could support people at this challenging time.
For example, one of the most common problems during a disease outbreak is not being able to sleep. So, we shared a sleep workbook from the Centre for Clinical Interventions and later developed our own Good Thinking Sleep Workbook to help minimise that risk. Lack of sleep can make everything so much harder so it was particularly important to help Londoners get on top of this.
Things changed rapidly during the pandemic and we wanted to be able to give Londoners advice to help them manage the particular challenges of each day. We therefore created a broad range of new content and launched our COVID-19 and mental health [ADD LINK TO NEW AREA] hub in March 2020.
Together with trauma and sleep experts, we created our own Good Thinking workbooks on these topics and also worked with faith organisations and community groups to develop tailored content (e.g. Five ways to good mental wellbeing through the lens of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Rastafari, Sikhi and Judaism).
We also expanded our support for young people, teaming up with Partnership for Young London to conduct a listening project with young Londoners during the first lockdown and launching a 'Young people' section. This contained advice on the issues that matter to them as well as free NHS-approved wellbeing apps, such as Clear Fear, Feeling Good Teens and Student Health App.
As we adapt to living with COVID-19, we continue to help Londoners stay mentally healthy and able to face new challenges, such as the cost of living crisis. We want to reduce stress through practical steps that lessen worries. If we can help you, we will also help those who are important to you and, perhaps, the whole of London. We hope you stay safe and well.