More than 50 organisations have urged the Prime Minister to develop a new mental health plan to prevent and respond to damage arising from the coronavirus outbreak. The current system will not be able to cope with an expected surge in demand as the nation starts to rebuild after Covid-19, Boris Johnson has been warned.
The Samaritans, Rethink Mental Illness and Mind are some of the charities who have said he must place mental health at the heart of the Government’s recovery plan.
A Government spokeswoman responded by noting NHS mental health services are open and can be accessed online or over the phone.
She said: “The pandemic has had consequences for us all, and we recognise this challenging time will have had an impact upon people’s mental health.
“That’s why we’ve provided £4.2 million to mental health charities to help people experiencing difficulties throughout the outbreak, in addition to £5 million already made available through the Coronavirus Mental Health Response Fund.”
The charities say almost half of the UK population have experienced high levels of anxiety during the pandemic, while 80% of people living with mental illness say it has deteriorated.
They estimate a further half a million people are likely to go on to experience mental health problems as a result of the economic impact of the crisis.
The coalition of voluntary and social sector organisations is calling on the Government to work with them to develop a mental health renewal plan.
Their letter to Mr Johnson reads: “We know, as you do, that no
one organisation, agency or Government department can provide the solutions to the enormous challenge facing us.
“But as Prime Minister, you have the authority to convene all the right people to make this happen.
“Together we can lead the world in delivering a Covid-19 recovery that puts the nation’s mental health at its heart.”
Mark Winstanley, chief executive of Rethink Mental Illness, said: “Mental health care has been chronically underfunded for decades and we were only just starting to see the impact of investment when the pandemic hit.
“Covid-19 has changed the course of the journey we are on and we need to pool all our knowledge and resources to navigate the challenges ahead, with support at every level of Government.
“There’s an opportunity here to provide the nation with a renewal plan for mental health and to reduce some of the most damaging health inequalities in society. If we do not seize this chance, we will feel the impact of that failing for decades.”
Kathy Roberts, chief executive of the Association of Mental Health Providers, added: “This means the Government and the voluntary sector working in partnership – so that whether you are a community-based service provider, a school, or a business, you know you are funded properly to play your part in supporting the nation with its mental health, and if you are a person with mental health needs you can be confident that support is in place if or when needed.”
Published:27/06/2020 by Radio NewsHub