The Liberal Democrats have secured cross-party and third sector support for their call for the Government to improve mental health support during the coronavirus crisis.
Writing to the Secretary of Health, the cross-party group of Parliamentarians have expressed fears that government advice to stay at home will leave people “worried about coronavirus, their jobs, housing” and “anxious about their family’s health and their own.”
Over 40 MPs from across the political spectrum have signed the letter highlighting the “inextricable link” between mental and physical health and urging the Government to:
- launch a publicity campaign signposting the mental health support available during the coronavirus crisis.
- send public health leaflets, which include advice on looking after mental health and signposts to organisations that can offer mental health support during the crisis, to all homes.
- increase the level of funding for mental health charities offering support during the coronavirus crisis, to reduce pressure on the NHS.
The Mental Health Foundation and Campaigns at Young Minds have both supported the cross-party efforts.
Munira Wilson, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care, said:
“Social distancing means millions are now home alone, facing the prospect of only the most minimal contact with another soul for months. This isolation is likely to have a grave impact on their mental health.
“Millions more, without being completely isolated, will still be struggling with the rapid changes the coronavirus has wrought upon our way of life. People's anxiety will be further fueled by concern for the health of loved ones, or stress resulting from the impact of the pandemic on jobs and livelihoods.
“Given the unprecedented events we are living through, the need for mental health support could not be clearer. That’s why the government must signpost the appropriate support services to every household, and adequately fund the charities that provide those services.”
Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said:
“Supporting and protecting people’s mental health will be critical for people to endure and recover from this pandemic. Peer support approaches and prominent advice should be central to the government’s plan, with a particular focus on reaching those most at risk.”
Tom Madders, Director of Communications and Campaigns at Young Minds said:
"The coronavirus pandemic is a human tragedy that will continue to alter the lives of everyone in our society, and will have a significant impact on the mental health of young people. The lockdown measures that the Government have taken are absolutely right, but we know that this has transformed young people’s lives. We must prepare for many more young people, who previously might not have needed mental health support, to do so in the future. As the impact of the pandemic and the restrictions on their lives continues to sink in, more young people are likely to struggle.
"It is crucial that young people are able to access support at this time and know where to find good quality information and resources on how they can look after their mental health at home. Now is the time for us all to work together and support those most at risk in our society. The Government must fully recognise the growing mental health impact that COVID-19 will continue to have on children and young people, and ensure that those professionals and organisations providing mental health support are well enough resourced and supported to do so.”