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Understanding the psychological impact of COVID-19

25 January 2021 | Lucy Brock
Head of Education and Simulation Programmes Lucy Brock introduces a new series of videos released by the London Transformation and Learning Collaborative on how to cope with the psychological impact of the pandemic.

Do I need to go for a run, eat more vegetables, start taking vitamin D supplements, call my mum or sign up for a pre-paid listening service?

As a physiotherapist used to understanding the underlying problem before prescribing a course of rehab exercises, I have found the scatter-gun of interventions for managing our wellbeing quite bemusing. These seem like sensible solutions but why is that I now need to pay special attention to my wellbeing? Certainly it seems to be the case but I’m not sure which of many potential causes has made that so. What is the underlying problem?

There’s the claustrophobia of my lovely, but small flat; missing my friends; that my daily step count is half what it was 12 months ago; that I’m not going skiing this year (hear the violins); that I’m off the frontline while I want to be there; that I was on the frontline and it was horrid. There is WFH and Zoom calls and that I’m working in my PJs…oh yes…and it’s January!!

This series of recorded conversations with Health Psychologist Dr Esther Murray1 spawned out of the usefulness of, well…a series of unrecorded conversations with Dr Esther Murray. (If you haven’t watched any of them, please do).

We2 contacted Dr Murray (credit must go to my colleagues Libby Thomas3 and Clare Leon-Villapalos4) and had the most fantastic, dare I say, therapeutic and insightful conversations as a group.

It’s hardly surprising, but as a psychologist with particular interest in the mental health of healthcare professionals, she helped us pick apart some of the widely experienced and (as it turns out) very normal psychological fallout of this pandemic, and what we can do to help ourselves and others.

Dr Murray explains how so much of this is a very normal reaction to very abnormal circumstances, and unpacks this and a few other things in this series. We will upload them as quickly as we can distil 200 minutes of footage into 5-10 minute chunks. I hope it’s as helpful for the listener as it was for the author. Please share widely. Credit also to Fish for Feet – the most outstanding digital creatives we are partnering with to communicate this message.

View the video conversations

More information

  1. Dr Esther Murray, Senior Lecturer Health Psychology. Her research interests lie in social inequalities in health, wellbeing in medical students and doctors, and doctor patient communication.
  2.  I am one of many working in the London Transformation and Learning Collaborative (LTLC), partnered across the London healthcare system to gather workforce data, build networks and create education resources to deliver surge capacity critical care.
  3. Dr Libby Thomas is a Consultant in Emergency Medicine and a lecturer at Queen Mary University of London in Trauma Medicine and King’s College London in Medical Education. She leads the LTLC Education team.
  4. Clare Leon-Villapalos is Lead Critical Care Nurse Educator at Imperial College Hospitals. She is the LTLC Nursing Education Lead.