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30 March 2020

Mental Health and the Coronavirus

An impaired immune system is often experienced by mito patients, and so coronavirus poses is a very serious risk.  Many patients and their families have already been self-isolating for some time. But the coronavirus doesn’t just threaten our physical health, self-isolation and stress have the potential to damage our mental health as well.

Your mental health is as important as your physical health

The coronavirus is causing patients and their families concern. What are the implications of catching COVID-19? How can I avoid it? Will I be able to get prescriptions fulfilled? What to do if other symptoms require medical assistance? What is the risk of going to hospital? How will I get groceries? How will I pay my rent/mortgage if my job is compromised? All of these worries, coupled with self-isolation itself can lead to feelings of anxiety, stress and depression, to name just a few.

Virtual support

IMP has a closed Facebook support group, many of our members have their own support groups, and there are others that focus on specific types of mito. Sometimes, sharing fears and talking to others who understand, can really help.

Some of our members offer a telephone and/or email helpline, visit their websites to find out more. IMP also offers support via email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). 

Dealing with Stress*

  • Talk to someone – access a Facebook support group, pick up the phone, or chat to a friend via video.
  • Keep moving – even limited exercise can make a difference. There are lots of online exercise classes from gentle yoga and stretching, to Zumba dance classes, PE for kids and more strenuous work outs. Search on Facebook or You Tube for something that interests you. Walking up and down stairs, jogging on the spot, or doing weights using tins of beans are all activities that don’t require any equipment and can be tailored to your level of fitness.
  • Challenge unhelpful thoughts, the way we think can impact the way we feel – watch a short video created by the British National Health System (NHS).
  • Find something positive – everyday think about three things that you are grateful for, ie the sun is shining, I am doing everything I can to stay safe from COVID-19, I am spending time with my child/parent/spouse.
  • Create a healthy sleeping pattern – everyone’s sleep needs are different and stress can negatively impact on good sleep. Keep a pad of paper by your bed and write down your worries - putting them on paper can relieve your mind and make it easier to sleep.
  • Limit the amount of time you spend watching/listening to the news. The situation is changing rapidly around the world, and with 24 hour news channels and social media, it is easy to focus on the worse case situations.
  • Make time to do something you enjoy:
    • Read a book – some online book stores have made their books and audiobooks free during the pandemic
    • Draw, paint or get crafty
    • Meditate – there are lots of free online mediation sessions
    • Try creative writing – there is a story in all of us
    • Do a puzzle
    • Learn a new language – google online language courses
    • Learn about history, art or different cultures via museums’ websites 


Mental Health Support 

Many mental health organisations are offering advice and support related to Coronavirus, some examples are listed below, google ‘coronavirus and mental health’ to find out what support is available in your country: 

The National Health Service in the UK: Every Mind Matters

Mental Health Europe

Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, USA


During the coronavirus pandemic, it is important that as a community, we come together to support each other – together we are stronger.



*Based on information from Every Mind Matters




© 2020 Int. Mito Patients