Mental health concerns ‘if shielding period extended’

Research also found that among those shielding just over half have exercised outside their home or garden.

Shielding: Mental health concerns. Pixabay
Shielding: Mental health concerns.

More than a third of people shielding with a respiratory condition would be concerned for their mental health if the shielding period were extended, according to a new survey.

Research carried out by Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation found that while many could continue to shield if it was necessary, it is extremely difficult and requires support.

Among those shielding almost a quarter (22%) have felt the need to leave their homes to go to the pharmacy to collect prescriptions while 24% have had to go to the shops for essential food and supplies.

It found that of those shielding (36%) were concerned for their mental health should the shielding period be extended.

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The research also found that among those shielding just over half have exercised outside their home or garden.

The charity said that around 80,000 people in Scotland are currently shielding due to the risk posed by their respiratory condition and called for them to be given more information following recent changes to shielding guidelines in England and Wales.

People deemed to be most vulnerable to the health risks from Covid-19, who are classed as “shielding”, must remain in lockdown in Scotland.

South of the border, however, people in the same category are now able to go outside with friends or family from the same household for the first time in weeks if they social distance.

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Joseph Carter, head of Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation Scotland, said: “There has been a mixed reaction to the reduction in shielding recommended in England and Wales, with many people feeling very anxious about going back out into public.

“We want to make sure those with respiratory conditions in Scotland feel confident in the guidance given and encourage the Scottish Government to continue having a transparent dialogue with the public and representative charities when it comes to shielding.”

The survey of 1146 Scots living with lung disease, 57% of whom were shielding, was carried out last month.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “As the health secretary has said, we know the last three months have been enormously difficult for people who are shielding and for their families, and it is tough for them to see restrictions being eased on those who are less at risk.

“We want to be very careful to get our advice right for those at highest risk in Scotland, as we move through how we can safely ease any restrictions, and we will provide more information on the process for doing so in the coming weeks.” 

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