With lockdowns easing, families reuniting and people beginning to move towards a ‘new normal’, the long-lasting impact of the coronavirus pandemic on people’s mental health has come into focus once again.
Initial new figures from Mind Cymru’s ‘Coronavirus: One Year On’ survey revealed that nearly two in three (63 per cent) adults believe that their mental health and wellbeing has got worse since the first national lockdown in March 2020. Moreover, just over a quarter of people (26 per cent) said they had developed a mental health problem during the pandemic. Not being able to see friends, family or a partner and being worried about the virus were the main contributing factors, with 60% of respondents being worried about seeing or being near other people once restrictions ease.
In response to these findings, Mind Cymru are relaunching the #StandForMe campaign, demanding that mental health is at the top of the Welsh Government’s agenda for years to come. The charity is calling on the new Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, Lynne Neagle, to ensure the Welsh Government’s commitments to prioritising mental health support to help with the long-term recovery are delivered.
Mind Cymru are asking people across Wales to share their mental health story, so that the Welsh Government recognise the importance of delivering on increased funding, better laws and the right services to support people with mental health problems.
Susan O’Leary, Interim Director at Mind Cymru, said: “As we emerge from a global health pandemic, support for the mental health of the nation must remain a priority for the Welsh Government. Significant numbers of people with an existing mental health problem have experienced a worsening of their mental health, with a number experiencing a problem for the first time.
“These initial results highlight the need for long-term investment and support for Welsh people in the coming years as we know that mental health issues do not have a short-term fix. Whilst the easing of restrictions will come as a relief for many of us, this survey indicates that for a significant number of people with mental health problems there may be added worry. People will need support to overcome this and return to many aspects of their lives before the pandemic.
“We welcome the announcements in the Programme for Government last week and the focus now needs to be on ensuring these are delivered The opportunity to increase investment in support for children and young people, tackle inequalities in access and deliver reductions in waiting times needs to be grasped.
“That’s why we are asking people to share their stories with us as part of our #StandForMe campaign so that the Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, Lynne Neagle MS can hear your voices, stand for you and for those of us with a mental health problem, and in doing so secure lasting change.”
Linda Roberts, who lives in Bridgend, Wales, and is a carer experienced mental health problems for the first time in the past year, including anxiety. She said: “I’ve had a very hard time during the pandemic as I was caring for my sons, but I actually think now is the worst time for my mental health. I really missed other members of my family when we couldn’t see anyone, but because everyone was experiencing some level of hardship it was more accepted if you were struggling with your mental health.
“It feels like now the pubs and shops are open, everyone expects you to be ok, but I still have anxiety and experience low mood and I don’t feel ready to go outside and be near people.”
For more information on how to get involved, visit www.mind.org.uk/StandForMeMental health services Mind Cymru campaigns