HSE Article on Minding your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak

Infectious disease outbreaks like coronavirus (COVID-19), can be worrying. This can affect your mental health. But there are many things you can do to mind your mental health during times like this.

How your mental health might be affected

The spread of coronavirus is a new and challenging event. Some people might find it more worrying than others. Try to remember that medical, scientific and public health experts are working hard to contain the virus.

Most people’s lives will change in some way over a period of days, weeks or months. But in time, it will pass.

You may notice some of the following:

  • increased anxiety
  • feeling stressed
  • finding yourself excessively checking for symptoms, in yourself, or others
  • becoming irritable more easily
  • feeling insecure or unsettled
  • fearing that normal aches and pains might be the virus
  • having trouble sleeping
  • feeling helpless or a lack of control
  • having irrational thoughts

If you are taking any prescription medications, make sure you have enough.

How to mind your mental health during this time

Keeping a realistic perspective of the situation based on facts is important. Here are some ways you can do this.

Stay informed but set limits for news and social media

The constant stream of social media updates and news reports about coronavirus could cause you to feel worried. Sometimes it can be difficult to separate facts from rumours. Use trustworthy and reliable sources to get your news.

Read up-to-date, factual information on coronavirus in Ireland here.

On social media, people may talk about their own worries or beliefs. You don’t need to make them your own. Too much time on social media may increase your worry and levels of anxiety. Consider limiting how much time you spend on social media.

If you find the coverage on coronavirus is too intense for you, talk it through with someone close or get support.

Keep up your healthy routines

Your routine may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak in different ways. But during difficult times like this, it’s best if you can keep some structure in your day.

It’s important to pay attention to your needs and feelings, especially during times of stress. You may still be able to do some of the things you enjoy and find relaxing.

For example, you could try to:

Stay connected to others

During times of stress, friends and families can be a good source of support. It is important to keep in touch with them and other people in your life.

If you need to restrict your movements or self-isolate, try to stay connected to people in other ways, for example:

  • e-mail
  • social media
  • video calls
  • phone calls
  • text messages

Many video calling apps allow you to have video calls with multiple people at the same time.

Remember that talking things through with someone can help lessen worry or anxiety. You don’t have to appear to be strong or to try to cope with things by yourself.

Talking to children and young people

Involving your children in your plans to manage this situation is important. Try to consider how they might be feeling.

Give children and young people the time and space to talk about the outbreak. Share the facts with them in a way that suits their age and temperament, without causing alarm.

Talk to your children about coronavirus but try to limit their exposure to news and social media. This is especially important for older children who may be spending more time online now. It may be causing anxiety.

Try to anticipate distress and support each other

It is understandable to feel vulnerable or overwhelmed reading or hearing news about the outbreak.

Acknowledge these feelings. Remind yourself and others to look after your physical and mental health. If you smoke or drink, try to avoid doing this any more than usual. It won’t help in the long-term.

Don’t make assumptions

Don’t judge people or make assumptions about who is responsible for the spread of the disease. The coronavirus can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, nationality or ethnicity. We are all in this together.

Online and phone supports

Face-to-face interaction may be limited during this period. There are many online mental health resources and phone services that can help.

OCD and coronavirus

If you have OCD, you may develop an intense fear of:

  • catching coronavirus
  • causing harm to others
  • things not being in order

Fear of being infected by the virus may mean you become obsessed with:

  • hand hygiene
  • cleanliness
  • avoiding certain situations, such as using public transport

Washing your hands

The compulsion to wash your hands or clean may get stronger. If you have recovered from this type of compulsion in the past, it may return.

Follow the advice to wash your hands properly and often, but you do not need to do more than recommended.

Things you can do to help:


Follow the link below to watch a webinar discussing the ways you can protect your mental health;


Working from Home tips for Candidates

It is important that you look after yourself while working from home during this time.  When we work from home it is easy to get into bad habits and become immersed in work, and this can be counter-productive. Or you may experience the opposite and find it hard to focus and remain as motivated as you would on-site. To avoid this, we suggest a few things around expectations and best practices for remote working:


  • Candidates needs to have a clear workspace with comfortable seating and no distractions.  If you find something is distracting you (e.g. personal mobile phone), this should be put away during working hours.


  • It is very important to keep a regular routine while working from home. Try to get up at the same time as normal and get dressed/have breakfast and then go for a little walk in the place of your normal commute to the office.
  • Set a schedule and stick to it.  This might mean setting an alarm as a reminder.
  • Your work day hours are the same as normal, and candidates should still take his/her lunchbreak as normal.


  • Take regular breaks as you would on-site in their entirety, don’t cut them short.  Breaks serve an important function in improving concentration and focus, and allow us to stand and stretch when spending time working at a desk.
  • Spend lunchtime doing something immersive, for e.g.  do some jobs around the house or cook dinner etc rather than putting the TV on, as it helps to keep the brain in focus.

Reach out for support:

  • Don’t be afraid to increase the frequency of check-ins with your managers and Specialisterne staff should you have any questions/ need support, so that you don’t feel isolated and can still be productive
  • Outside of working hours keep in touch with friends/colleagues on non-work-related topics so as not to feel too isolated.

Don’t burn yourself out

  • While it is really important that you are strict with yourself and stick to your schedule, don’t over-do it as burn out often happens when people forget to finish and end up working extra hours.
  • If possible, get some fresh air e.g. in the garden or go for a short walk outside of working hours

Information for candidates if the Covid-19 Pandemic affects their employment

Due to the measures put in place by the Irish Government to curb the transmission of the Covid-19 virus, many people may find their employment is disrupted. In response to this the Irish Government have put in place new Social Welfare Payments for those who have lost employment due to the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. Detailed information on these payments and how they may apply to your own situation can be found on the Citizen’s Information website at;




The  COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment is a 6 week payment which will be paid at a flat rate of €203 per week for those who qualify under the ‘jobseekers’ category. This category applies to both employees (including students) and the self-employed who have either lost employment or had their working hours reduced due to Covid-19.

You can apply for this payment by filling out a short, simple one-page application form. Information on this payment, a link for the application form and details on how to fill this out can all be found on the gov.ie website at;