The devastating loss of life, the impact of lockdown and the inevitable recession will have deep and lasting consequences on the lives of so many Londoners.
It’s clear that the Covid-19 pandemic has been a mental health emergency, just as much as a physical one.
Anyone already living with a mental health problem has fared worse in the pandemic: two-thirds of adults who already had experience of mental health problems told us that their mental health had declined during the first lockdown period. We also know that many people who were previously well will now develop mental health problems, as a direct consequence of the pandemic and all that ensues.
In particular, there has been a significant mental health impact on:
Our manifesto sets out five priority areas with actions that the Mayor needs to take to address the mental health emergency facing Londoners as a result of the pandemic. The five priorities are to:
Download the Mind in London manifesto as a PDF (356 kb)
We know that concerns about unemployment, income decline and unmanageable debts can have a significant impact on our mental health and is closely linked to increased rates of common mental health problems, increased substance abuse and suicide.
We are likely to see a rise in financial stress and debt due to job insecurity and unemployment following the recession due to the Covid-19 pandemic and multiple local and national lockdown restrictions. The high cost of housing in London also plays a part in increasing vulnerability to financial stress and the risk of homelessness. Children with mental health problems are twice as likely to live in households suffering financial hardship. Financial hardship in some London boroughs mean that existing tried and tested services are under threat of cuts or may even disappear in some areas.
Mind in London provides:
Employability services with tailored one to one and group support to build skills and confidence for those of us with mental health problems who are entering or re-entering the jobs market and access to education.
Information and advice around income maximisation and welfare benefits; access to housing and homelessness support; and access to community and clinical support for anyone with mental health problems through Integrated Care Systems and Primary Care Networks.
‘The lockdown has made me very isolated. I am now unemployed and worried about accessing food, medicine and enough money to live on.’
Mind Survey respondent
The Covid-19 pandemic has shone a light on structural inequalities at the heart of our society. Higher mortality rates across Black and Asian communities have highlighted structural inequalities and institutionalised racism in health services. For instance Black people are less likely to receive psychological therapies and are 40% more likely to access treatment through the police or a criminal justice route.
Economic and social inequality leading to poverty and deprivation add another layer. For example Black people are more likely to be on lower incomes and live in more deprived neighbourhoods. Child poverty is not just a short-term risk to mental health: it has an effect throughout life.
Mind in London advocates and supports local Minds across London to develop and evolve as anti-racist organisations. Mind in London can:
'I am worried about money, the uncertainty of when things will start to return to normal, if my work will still be there and how this will affect my children’s lives in the next few years.’
Mind, Survey Respondent
Children and young people have been among those most impacted by the pandemic. Mind’s survey on the impact of the first lockdown found that two thirds of young people’s mental health had declined and over a third of young people with existing mental health problems were self-harming to cope. Many young people and families in London are experiencing unsuitable home learning environments; lack of safe spaces in schools; food poverty; digital exclusion and other inequalities.
School disruption and closure, uncertainty around exams and soaring unemployment will all impact adversely on young adults’ potential to gain qualifications and find work. The pandemic and subsequent recession will have long-term effects on the mental health of young people.
Even before coronavirus, young people with a mental health problem were already being left behind by our education system, with nearly 1 in 5 young people experiencing a mental health problem dropping out of education due to stigma.
Mind in London deliver a variety of interventions targeted at children and young people and has piloted the Whole Schools Approach for mental health.
Mind Survey respondent
The multiple waves of Covid-19, together with regional and national tier responses, have caused a surge in need for mental health services. It’s estimated that an additional two million Londoners will require access to mental health services as a result of the pandemic.
Mental health services were overstretched before the pandemic; without a significant injection of additional cash, they will now be overwhelmed. We need to ensure that statutory services invest in and commission appropriate services that respond to the needs of their diverse communities and to additional needs following the pandemic.
Mind in London works with local commissioners to provide the focused solutions for their communities including crisis alternatives; bereavement support; suicide prevention and postvention; and perinatal support.
‘Not being able to access the relevant physical and mental health services… has left me distraught and depressed as there is no way for me to treat my symptoms that are plaguing me daily.’
Mind Survey respondent
The Act is outdated and discriminatory with Black people four times more likely to be sectioned and three times more likely to be restrained or held in isolation.
The pandemic has further highlighted the urgent need for reform. Many mental health hospitals were ill-equipped to control the spread of coronavirus and this, combined with staff sickness and absence, left those detained under the Mental Health Act far more exposed to Covid-19 than the wider population. Right now, thousands of people are still subjected to poor, sometimes appalling, treatment, and many will live with the consequences far into the future.
Mind in London supported Mind’s call for the UK government to implement the recommendations of the Independent Review. Mind in London will work to ensure as many people as possible with experience of mental health problems take part in the public consultation process, to make sure their voices and experiences are at the heart of reforms.
‘They don’t see me as an individual, with a specific history. They see a catalogue of Black men who come off as this stereotype of being big and dangerous and angry.’
Colin, Mind film participant