Whether it is dealing with the virus itself, being impacted by unemployment, feeling isolated, or the tragedy of losing a loved one, we have all had a very personal experience of living through this pandemic, and we know that it is not over yet.
In 2020, the UK experienced the most significant decline in GDP since the 1920s, and during the first three months of this year, 21 per cent of adults experienced depression, more than double the level in 2019. 67 per cent of young people believe that the pandemic will have a long-term adverse effect on their mental health.
For some of us, the impact of the pandemic may be short-lived, but for others, Covid-19 will cast a long shadow as they begin to rebuild their lives.
Mental Ill-Health Prevention and Recovery Programme
The Mental Ill-Health Prevention and Recovery Programme launched in 2020 in response to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the mental health and wellbeing of our communities.
Driven by the three mental health Trusts in South London (South London and Maudsley, South West London and St Georges, and Oxleas), the programme has support from all local authority partners in Bexley, Bromley, Croydon, Greenwich, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark, Kingston, Merton, Richmond, Sutton and Wandsworth, as well as South West London and South East London Integrated Care Systems, Healthwatch organisations and several community organisations.
South London Mental Ill Health Prevention Summit
We held an urgent summit in June 2020 in partnership with Croydon, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark councils to address how we could work together to protect our communities’ mental health as result of Covid-19 pandemic.
As a result of this summit we launched our community listening campaign South London Listens.
In November 2020, we launched the South London Listens community listening campaign at our second summit.
For this phase we partnered with Citizens UK to carry out a listening campaign to find out how the Covid-19 pandemic was affecting our communities.
Between November 2020 and March 2021, the campaign heard from 5,732 people across South London and focused on reaching groups disproportionately affected by mental ill health. There were also ‘mini-summits’ in several boroughs, attended by community leaders and MPs to share their experiences and ideas.
Throughout March and April 2021, these events were complimented by an online survey which was completed by nearly 600 people.
The South London Listens community listening campaign culminated with a third community summit on 16 June 2021.
The South London Listens Community Summit was attended by hundreds of community leaders and members of the public, and we were joined by South West London and St George's NHS Trust, Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust and local councils.
The community leaders shared some of the inspiring stories they had heard as part of the listening campaign and presented a series of specific asks designed to help prevent a mental health crisis as a result of the pandemic.
We were proud to pledge our support for all their asks, including supporting a Mental Health Champions programme, work with community organisations to become Mental Health Hubs and developing a ‘virtual waiting room’ for CAMHS.
�At the summit we pledged:
To develop a virtual waiting room to support children and young people waiting for mental health treatment
To resource parent groups to offer peer-to-peer support
To invest in mental health practitioners based in community organisations
To work towards developing a culturally competent workforce
To champion the living wage within the health sector
To support hundreds of local people to become Mental Health Champions and the development of Mental Health Hubs
To work with councils and community groups to develop a social isolation, loneliness and digital inclusion strategy
To publish an action plan for delivering our pledges
The Community Summit was just the beginning. We are now working on developing an action plan to deliver our pledges and have committed to attending an Accountability Assembly next summer for community groups and the public to judge our progress against our commitments.