2020 will be known as the year when the world faced and responded to one of the greatest public health challenges of our era. Schools and workplaces closed, travel ground to a halt, cities and neighbourhoods fell quiet.
Amongst the deaths and physical illness, we have also seen the emergence of psychological suffering, loneliness and distress. Even before Covid-19 we knew that mental health was our biggest national concern. We are now at serious risk of a rising tide of poor mental health.
And whilst Covid-19 has touched us all, it has magnified and accelerated mental health inequalities across our society. The poorest, the most marginalised and the most discriminated-against, have been even more disconnected and disadvantaged.
However, we know that it does not need to be this way. Individuals, communities and workers of all kinds have shown remarkable resilience and kindness throughout the pandemic. With the right action, a mental health catastrophe can be prevented.
What are we doing?
As the UK’s leading charity for the public’s mental health, we are launching a major initiative to develop community prevention programmes across the four nations of the UK, helping those in greatest need.In the first instance our programmes will support groups who we know have been hit hard by Covid-19: single parent families; people with long term health conditions, refugees and people from minority ethnic communities.
Our own nationally renowned ‘Coronavirus: Mental Health in the Pandemic’ study has told us that these groups are struggling now and that without help this will endure. So with the help and support from key donors like you, we are planning on investing £2m to expand our well-evidenced programmes. We are also joining forces with other charities and community organisations so that we can reach communities at scale. We are launching this new programme at the start of this year and it will run for the next three years.
Our goal is not just to help people now but also to support other organisations, and give them the tools and techniques to make mental health their number one priority too. There really is no health without mental health. This programme is ambitious and will draw upon our teams from across the UK, but with your support we can make a real difference.
Mark Rowland, CEO
The pandemic has shown that our current health system plays a crucial role in treating sickness. But it isn’t designed to prevent ill-health and protect our mental health. For that, we need far greater action outside of the health service. That is why we are investing resources to support the emotional and mental health of communities at risk, and to demonstrate that prevention reallyis better than cure if we are to achieve happier, healthier lives.
Julie Cameron, the Associate Director for MHF Scotland and Northern Ireland
This is an ambitious and exciting initiative that is bringing evidence- informed interventions to those most in need. We want to build on what we already know about the power of peer and community led support by building the capacity of organisations and harnessing the relationship they already have with the communities they serve. By working together we can improve the mental health and wellbeing of those who have faced significant hardship and trauma over the past year.