World Mental Health Day: Mental Health Foundation announces £2 million programme to support people worst hit by pandemic

  • Mental Health Foundation calls on UK Government to invest more in public health in the forthcoming Spending Review, to tackle mental health inequalities in the wake of the pandemic
  • Foundation research shows how crisis continues to have unequal impacts on mental health

The Mental Health Foundation is today unveiling a £2 million Covid Response Programme to support people whose mental health has been hardest hit by the pandemic, according to its ongoing study.

Those groups include adults living with long-term health conditions, lone parents, people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds and people who are refugees.

The Foundation is committing £1 million to the programme,  with the further £1 million being provided by key partners including the Monday Charitable Trust, the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland, the Welsh Government, MumsAid, The Motherhood Group, Single Parents Wellbeing and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in north Wales.

The new programme is being announced to coincide with World Mental Health Day (10 October 2021), which this year has the theme of Mental Health in an Unequal World.

The Mental Health Foundation’s ongoing study of the pandemic, along with other evidence, suggests that some groups have had a more emotionally challenging time during Covid.   

Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of Mental Health Foundation, said: “Among the people struggling the most are those who were already facing considerable challenges. This includes people with long-term health conditions, or facing discrimination or who may be parenting on their own.

“From the beginning of the pandemic, the Mental Health Foundation has tracked its impact on people’s mental health. Now, we  are launching a £2 million programme to work with partners to help some of the people who have been hardest hit. 

“We are doing our part but we need the government to do theirs. The UK government’s levelling-up agenda must include investing in public health - which has been steadily cut since 2015/16 - in order to tackle mental health inequalities. 

“We’re urging the Spending Review and forthcoming Autumn Budget to prevent a deepening of existing inequalities, by retaining the £20 a week uplift to Universal Credit, increasing investment in the Public Health Grant and committing to a long-term Mental Health Promotion and Prevention Fund of £25m per annum for three years.”

The Covid Response Programme aims to add value to existing mental health work, by working alongside selected partners. This will include peer-leader training, group sessions, individual advice and counselling.  As well as benefits for the individuals participating, the delivery partners will gain capacity to offer improved mental health support to the people they work with.   

The Covid Response Programme projects across the UK include: 

Long Covid, Wales: The Long Covid project aims to bring hope, improve wellbeing and reduce social isolation in individuals living with Long Covid. The two-year peer support project will help people who have already attended the six-week Expert Patient Programme, provided by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in north Wales, and will then build on that support over a sustained period to effectively equip people to self-manage their condition, using trained peer supporters from others experiencing the effects of Long Covid. This project has been selected as an exemplar of the Bevan Commission scheme.  

Young Mums Connect, England: Young Mums Connect is a three-year programme in Nottingham and Greenwich, that builds on previous work to support young vulnerable mothers and their children. This programme is delivered in partnership with Nottingham City Council, MumsAid and The Motherhood Group.  Young Mums Connect offers peer support to improve mental health, bringing young mothers and their babies together in weekly creative activities and group discussions. Weekly activities provide information about mental health, parenting and advice to help build young mothers’ confidence to deal with their future. Alongside peer support, Young Mums Connect will provide learning opportunities for health and social care teams across England, increasing their capacity to respond to the unique needs and experiences of young, vulnerable mothers.   

 Living Well:  Emotional Support Matters, Scotland: In Scotland, the Foundation is partnering with the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland for the ‘Living Well:  Emotional Support Matters’ project. It will enable eight charities working with people who are living with long-term health conditions to provide mental health support. (Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, SISG, Braveheart, Versus Arthritis, Diabetes Scotland, Waverley Care, Clan Cancer Support and MS Mid Argyll.) 

Connecting Creatively: Single Parents Wellbeing, Wales: Connecting Creatively offers a safe space for single parents and their children by encouraging creativity and positive parenting and through building a peer support network. In doing this, we hope to enhance the mental health and wellbeing of single parents, to improve their social connections and strengthen the relationships between parents and their children. Ultimately the project aims to promote wellbeing, promote good parent/child bonding and build people’s emotional resilience, which will have a long-term positive impact on the lives of the families involved. 

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Notes to editors

The Monday Charitable Trust: Through its grant making, the charity primarily supports: hospices; young people with the provision of life skills and/or improving social mobility; mental health; members or former members of the armed forces; people transitioning from rough sleeping.

About the Mental Health Foundation:  Our vision is of good mental health for all.  The Mental Health Foundation works to prevent mental health problems.  We drive change towards a mentally healthy society for all and support communities, families and individuals to lead mentally healthy lives with a particular focus on those at greatest risk. For further information visit www.mentalhealth.org.uk 

For further information and interview requests please contact Fran Edwards at the Mental Health Foundation Press Office: [email protected] or on 07786 437249 or via [email protected]