In England, many people with mental health problems have been unable to access services since coronavirus unfolded. Local community health services, which play a vital role in helping people stay well and out of hospital, were closed or reduced, and referral numbers dropped. This meant more people reached crisis point. This simply isn’t good enough: we need urgent investment in community services to ensure that people are supported before they ever reach this stage. The pressure on our already overstretched services is only going to increase, and extra investment is more critical than ever.
The pandemic has affected different sections of society in different ways. Coronavirus has had a disproportionate impact on people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities. The mental health impacts will be similarly disproportionate. People from these communities have long faced inequalities in the mental health support they receive, and the UK Government must now prioritise urgent reforms aimed at improving their experiences. In England, the UK Government must provide a bespoke package of support for those groups at most risk of developing mental health problems, including people from Black, Asian and other Minority Ethnic communities, frontline workers, people recovering from hospitalisation as a result of coronavirus, and those who have been bereaved.
Our Head of Equality Improvement, Marcel Vige, explores in his blog how race forms part of the history of mental health.
Marcel explains how its dark past still has ramifications in people’s outcomes and treatment today, and what needs to happen to create effective change.
More than half of us being treated in hospital for mental health problems are sectioned. This means being held against your will under the Mental Health Act, with little or no say over what happens to you. Being sectioned is one of the most traumatic things that can happen to someone, and the extra restrictions put it place during coronaviuus made this experience even worse for some. In 2018 an independent review of the Mental Health Act made over 150 recommendations for reforming this discriminatory and outdated legislation. 18 months later we are still waiting. We’re calling on the UK Government not to go back to business as usual but look to improving the care, treatment and dignity of people detained under the Mental Health Act.
Find out more about campaigning work on the Mental Health Act to date.
Black men are four times more likely to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act and three times more likely to be restrained or held in isolation while in hospital.
Colin shares his experience of being sectioned and how it's impacted him and why he thinks the system needs to change.
The impact of a health crisis goes far beyond health services. Many of us are worrying about finances and jobs and wondering how we will put food on the table. This will have a huge impact on our mental health now and well into the future. With a recession looming, benefit claims soaring and unemployment set to rise, we need to see Government doing all it can to protect people with mental health problems from falling into poverty. This includes making permanent some of the positive changes they made during the pandemic around benefits assessments and Statutory Sick Pay.
Local mind advisor Zad shares how, pre-lockdown, face to face benefits assessments impacted many of the people she supports.
She thinks the government's decision to cancel mandatory face to face asesments is progress. But let's make this change permanent.
With schools closed and normal support services less accessible in England, children and young people with mental health problems are not only missing out on their education, but also on the support that helps them to stay well. Mental health stigma has caused nearly one in five young people to drop out of education and children and young people with a mental health problem are more likely to be excluded from school. We are concerned that the current closure of schools will further disadvantage young people with mental health problems. The UK Government and education sector must put in place a plan to support young people's wellbeing, alongside their education.
I really need a hug. I feel so lonely, and feel like this is going to put my agoraphobia progression back. It makes me feel like giving up. I am fighting so hard not to.
Those in power can make the right choices make sure the society that comes after the pandemic is kinder, fairer and safer. Help us call on the UK government to make sure mental health is at the heart of the new normal - campaign with us. If you'd like more information about the five tests, read our report or get in touch with us at [email protected].