Explains why masks can cause difficult feelings, and gives practical tips on how to cope. Includes information on exemptions for mental health reasons.
Changes to the rules for masks are going to mean different things for different people. For example, we know that:
When mask rules were first introduced last year, it took a while to get used to them. Even now that some of the rules have been relaxed, wearing a mask is still likely to be the social norm.
You might find that changes to the rules leave you feeling:
There is no typical way to feel about changes to the rules for masks. And it can feel hard to know what to do when the rules don't feel clear.
For many of us, the rules for wearing masks have been relaxed. But it is still important to do what we can to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
For example, in Mind’s English charity shops, we are asking customers to consider wearing a mask if you comfortably can. This is especially for when the shops are busy. But we are also asking our staff, volunteers and customers to be kind and considerate, and not to judge others.
These are some questions you could ask to ‘mind your mask manners’ while you are out in public, and help others feel more comfortable:
Many of us have been wearing masks to help stop the spread of coronavirus during the pandemic. But masks are not easy for everyone. Some of us may find covering our face very hard, or even impossible to cope with.
Others may find it hard to interact with people who are wearing masks, or not wearing them. And for those of us with mental health problems, masks may feel especially difficult.
"I get very anxious about all the people who wear masks, they make me feel like I am full of dirt and germs."
Some people may be ‘exempt’ from wearing a mask, or have a ‘mask exemption’. This means they have a reasonable excuse not to wear a mask, such as experiencing certain mental health problems.
These exemptions were previously recognised in law across both England and Wales. But the legal situation for mask exemptions is now different between England and Wales:
It is still a legal requirement to wear masks in certain situations in Wales. This means you can still have a legal exemption from wearing a mask.
The Welsh Government website has information on who does not have to wear face coverings in Wales.
The laws for mask wearing have been relaxed in England. This also means you no longer need to have a legal exemption from wearing a mask.
But some businesses and public services are likely to continue to ask you to wear masks. And they should understand that some people cannot wear one and should still be exempt.
You do not need to prove that you are exempt from wearing a mask. There is no legal document or proof that you need to carry on you.
If you are challenged about not wearing a mask, you could:
Unfortunately, you might find that not everyone understands, or is supportive. This can be hard to cope with, but you're not alone. Consider trying some self-care tips and ideas to help look after yourself.
If wearing a mask makes you feel panicky or like it's harder to breathe, you could:
"It's so hard to wear a mask and carry on all day when underneath I feel sheer panic."
If wearing a particular material creates sensory overload, you could:
"I feel very claustrophobic and the masks make my face sore."
If wearing a mask steams up your glasses and makes it hard to see, you could:
If covering part of your face makes you feel uncomfortable in your body image or identity, you could:
If seeing other people in masks makes you feel uneasy or afraid, you could:
There are many ways we can be supportive to people who might be struggling with masks.
This information was last updated on 21 July 2021.
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