The Prime Minster has been urged by major coalition of charities to create an urgent renewal plan for mental health to support the nation’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic demands an urgent renewal plan for the nation’s mental health to avoid crisis, according to an unprecedented coalition of over 50 voluntary and social sector organisations which has written to the Prime Minister today to call for a cross-government approach to put the nation’s mental health at the heart of its Covid-19 recovery plan.
Samaritans, Mental Health UK, Mind, Rethink Mental Illness, Mental Health Foundation, Centre for Mental Health, Young Minds and the Association of Mental Health Providers are among the charities joined by voices from across the voluntary sector who warn that the system will fail to cope with an increase in demand without a comprehensive and fundamentally new approach to mental health, which both prevents and responds to the damage inflicted on the nation’s mental health by Covid-19. The coalition is asking the Prime Minister to convene a cross-governmental group to work with the sector and provide the financial and political backing to develop policy and unlock crucial funding across England.
Research from the sector illustrates how the pandemic has already inflicted a heavy toll on the nation’s mental health, with a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable in society. Nearly eighty percent of people living with mental illness reported that their mental health deteriorated as a result of the crisis, almost half of the UK population have experienced high levels of anxiety and Samaritans have provided emotional support more than 7,000 times a day.
The impact of months of social isolation, soaring levels of anxiety and the acute distress of bereavement has exacerbated existing health inequalities and is expected to be compounded by significant financial insecurity faced by households across the country, with an estimated half a million more people expected to experience mental health problems as a result of the economic impact of Covid-19.
In their letter to the Prime Minister, the coalition members highlight how voluntary sector organisations quickly adapted to provide support in the initial months of the pandemic and have worked with people with lived experience of poor mental health to help shape solutions.
They argue that combining this expertise and insight with the financial and political clout of government to implement change, presents a unique opportunity to shape a renewal plan for a mentally healthier society as the nation looks to reset and recover from the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Samaritans CEO Ruth Sutherland said:
“We are continuing to hear about the devastating impact that coronavirus has had on our nation’s mental health and our experience tells us that our service, and those of the other coalition charities, is going to be more vital than ever in the aftermath of the virus.
“As we come out of lockdown to face the challenges of recovery and a possible recession, Samaritans is calling for a Mental Health Renewal Plan which prioritises comprehensive support for people at risk of suicide. We want this to focus especially on groups such as less well-off middle aged men and young people who self-harm, both of whom have long needed better support when they are struggling, and who are likely to face acute challenges in the coming months. As part of a coalition of experts, Samaritans stands ready to work collaboratively with government to inform how people at risk of suicide can be better supported.”
Dear Prime Minister,