Creating anxiety and isolation packs for the community

29th July 2020

In this guest blog Zandra Hunt shares her experience of creating activity packs to help lessen feelings of anxiety and isolation during COVID-19.

After being hospitalised once again for my mental health, I was asked to write a care plan to go alongside my crisis plan. I’d just graduated from university in psychology and mental health so was in a very good position to do this. At first, I turned my nose up at the thought of doing it but slowly came around to the idea as I wanted to get out of the ‘revolving door’ of admission and discharge from the psych ward.

My wellness care plan

There was not a great deal of crisis prevention really being offered locally, but there was support when I was in crisis. I felt prevention would minimise the amount of crisis in my area, so I designed my own wellness care plan. In my plan was tools such as SMART goals, personal strengths and achievements, no harm contracts as well as my crisis plan and advanced statement. This has been a real lifesaver for me, and I haven’t returned to the hospital since.

I also began and facilitated a mental health peer support group in our local Tarbet community. It was slow to get off the ground but there were soon regular members. Then COVID-19 hit and I was forced to close the group until such times it was safe to reopen.

Creating the anxiety and isolation packs

I worried for our members so designed a pack in order to help them with grounding and distraction exercises. It included word searches, colouring pages, an anxiety pack, breathing exercises, an anxiety challenge, an article on ‘wellbeing for all’ that I wrote. This was all put together in a plastic wallet that could be wiped down with an antibacterial wipe before being passed to members.

We have a great community group that helped people physically who were isolating with support for groceries, medication but no-one seemed to be covering mental health, so I offered the same peer support packs to the adults within our local community.

Our packs were not only available for people with mental health issues, but everyone in general. COVID-19 has ignited feelings of anxiety in a lot of people and this shouldn’t be overlooked in the coming months as restrictions are lifted, as I believe anxiety based issues will soar. The hope was that the packs would help lessen the feelings anxiety while in isolation and reduce people ruminating over any thoughts about returning to ‘normality’ once lockdown is lifted.

I also offered packs for children which had word searches, colouring pages, self-esteem activities and breathing exercises. I was offered the services of a printing group to print all of the packs for free which was a great help. 44 adult and 20 child packs were distributed overall and the response was positive.

Feedback from recipients and families that the packs had markedly reduced stress and provided positive outlets for the anxieties experienced during these uncertain times.

Anne Horn a local Councillor commented:

The anxiety isolation packs given to Team Tarbert for distribution during the COVID-19 support work helped tremendously for people experiencing increased apprehension. The packs were delivered by volunteers who shared a smile and a wave and ensured that the recipient was safe and knew that support was available.

Make your own

Making your own pack is simple to do. I obtained my resources from the internet but yours could include colouring books, word searches, mindfulness or breathing exercises, whatever you feel would help,

The NHS also have a great page dedicated to protecting your wellbeing (NHS, 2020).