The last year will be forever remembered for the global pandemic – a seismic event in all of our lives with effects in all areas of society, including at the Mental Health Foundation.
The 2020/21 financial year started just two weeks into the first UK lockdown of the pandemic when we were about to press go on an ambitious expansion of our staff capacity – firing the rockets that would move us into a new orbit as a charity, and boldly set us on the path to making prevention happen in mental health.
Instead, we had to hold that future focus whilst diverting some of our efforts towards ensuring we could continue our mission, supporting staff to work from home and reframing our work to deliver within the operational and mental health challenges of the pandemic.
Responding to COVID-19
The emergence of COVID-19 led to massive changes, more uncertainty and new challenges for all of us. We've been part of the national mental health response during the coronavirus outbreak.
We were one of the first charities in the world to launch a dedicated microsite, our COVID Resource Hub, with evidence-based content and advice, updated weekly by drawing on our public health expertise. We also quickly launched a major UK-wide research study Coronavirus: Mental Health in the Pandemic to understand the effect of the COVID-19 crisis on the nation’s mental health and how to respond effectively.
Our ongoing research supported the creation of our COVID Response Programme to respond effectively to the mental health and wellbeing needs of some of the most affected communities, including lone parents, people with long-term conditions and black and minority ethnic communities.
Mental Health Awareness Week 2021
We have hosted Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) since 2001, with its purpose to highlight and promote a universal public mental health message. In previous years, we have examined how anxiety, stress, relationships and body image can impact our mental health. In response to the lockdown, we decided to change the theme to Kindness to connect with the mood of the nation and provide a message of hope. Usually, MHAW is a chance for events to take place in schools, universities, clubs, workplaces and communities around the country. This year, due to COVID-19, we had to use a digital approach instead.
- All major party leaders and numerous MSPs and MPs engaged with and shared our content, including Keir Starmer’s office and Nicola Sturgeon
- We met with Mental Health Minister Nadine Dorries and Scottish Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey
- The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge engaged with MHAW through radio and TV and social media outputs on three separate occasions
- The week was covered in primetime BBC national TV news and ITV national TV news
- We saw substantive media engagement across all four nations – England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales
- A very wide and eclectic range of celebrities and public figures engaged with the week including Kourtney Kardashian, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and Dame Kelly Holmes
- We launched a new fundraising campaign called Take Action, Get Active. It was a 31-day challenge where supporters signed up to take on 30 minutes of movement every day for the month of May
- Our policy document was viewed 3240 times compared to 312 times for last year’s report
We would like to shine a light on the fantastic support that Rock Choir has given the Mental Health Foundation in the last 18 months.
Rock Choir is the world’s largest contemporary choir and when COVID-19 hit, the team swiftly moved all of their members online and began a FREE weekly live singing tutorial for the Great British Public via their Facebook page called ‘Keep Britain Singing’ to help to lift the nation’s spirits. This continued for 106 consecutive days and reached five million households!