Coronavirus is having an impact on mental health, says Sussex YouTuber

A Sussex-based YouTuber is speaking out about the effect coronavirus is having on our mental health.

Finlay Games says his anxiety has been ‘ramped up’ by panic buying, sensational news headlines, and the ‘hysteria’ surrounding the outbreak of COVID-19.

He said he first noticed the peak in his anxiety when he walked into the gym and saw the hand sanitiser.

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“I’m used to living at high anxiety levels that I don’t notice, but in that moment I realised the link,” Finlay said, “It’s all the news, the hysteria, panic buying, it’s ramping up existing anxiety.”

Finlay Games

The 46-year-old from Eastbourne says, for him, anxiety includes feeling nauseous, having a racing heart, brain flashes, and intrusive, spiralling thoughts.

He said, “This is something I have every day, every day is a challenge to go outside. It’s harder now, it makes you have intrusive thoughts that tell you things that aren’t true.

“But there’s some element of truth in it now, there’s some danger in the world. Everywhere you go people are talking about it.

“When you see in the shops there’s no toilet roll or hand wash, immediately I’m thinking ‘oh god’ and all these spiralling thoughts start.

Finlay Games

“That’s a dangerous spiral when I stop challenging my anxiety and give in. It’s difficult to balance being safe with hand washing but also knowing when to be realistic.”

Finlay, a freelance writer who is able to work from home, said, “I’m not getting out as often as usual. I’m limiting how long I’m outside. Anxiety is exhausting and challenging.

“It just feels incredibly distressing. Anybody who’s ever been anxious, like if you’ve been to the dentist, that’s how I feel all the time. It’s exhausting.

“At the moment because it’s not going away it’s not coming down to its normal level, I’m at a heightened level all the time.”

Finlay has released a YouTube video on his channel FinTheInfinncible talking through his experiences and is encouraging others to speak out.

“There’s so much stigma out there, it needs to be addressed,” he said, “People worry people are going to say there’s bigger concerns. But this is valid. Everyone’s stressed at the moment.

“Mental health affects our physical health. It’s really important this is talked about.”

His advice to people who might be struggling is, “Talk about it. There’s lots mental health charities addressing this. Stop looking at the news every five minutes.

“I limit myself to only reputable news sources. Get out in nature, have space away from it all. Remember you are safe, our risks are low.”

He also has advice for people who may know someone who is finding things difficult at the moment. Finlay said, “Telling someone they are overthinking doesn’t help. It’s not that easy.

“Just try to understand. That gentle reassurance helps. Just listen and validate people’s feelings.”

Finlay has been making YouTube videos since 2011, which focus on mental health and LGBT issues.

In the past he has given a TED talk and he is currently writing a book about his gender transition journey.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, here are a number of resources which could help.

• Mind Infoline: 0300 123 3393, email [email protected] or text 86463

• Sussex Mental Health helpline 0300 5000 101

• If you or someone you know has suicidal thoughts, you can call The Samaritans’s 24-hour helpline on 08457 909090

• Health in Mind is a free NHS service for East Sussex residents who are experiencing stress, anxiety or low mood – call 03000 030 130