National lockdowns have taken a toll on communities throughout the UK and sadly many residents are experiencing mental health issues driven by isolation, financial difficulties and inaccess to healthcare. That’s why we’re delighted to fund vital community project, South London Listens, with support including befriending programmes and counselling.
Thanks to your generous donations to NHS Charities Together, £352,000 is being spent on tackling the mental health issues faced in South London due to the pandemic via Maudsley Charity. South London Listens is an incredible project driven by South London and Maudsley, South West London and St Georges, and Oxleas to invest in the wellbeing of the South London community.
Mental health and the pandemic
Figures provided by the Office for National Statistics reveal that during the first three months of 2021 21% of adults admitted to experiencing depression, more than double the recorded level in 2019. In addition, 67% of young people believe the pandemic will have a long-term adverse effect on their mental health.
For some, the impact of the pandemic may be short-lived, but for others Covid-19 is the start of an incredibly tough journey ahead. That’s why, with your invaluable help, NHS Charities Together has invested in South London Listens, a listening campaign that develops solutions to the key mental health challenges facing communities and vulnerable groups.
Support where it’s most needed
This important project listens directly to the needs of local people and is focused on reaching groups disproportionately affected by mental ill health. This was done through multiple community summits attended by members of the public, community leaders, local councils, NHS staff, and MPs between November 2020 and March 2021. In addition, throughout March and April 2021, an online survey was completed by almost 600 people.
The survey revealed that 78% of people in South London have been feeling isolated since the start of the pandemic, 76% have experienced loneliness and 81% of people have felt powerless. Alongside these apparent themes of loneliness and social isolation, other key topics which emerged included; mental health challenges faced by children, young people and parents, employment insecurity and financial worry, and limited access to essential health services.
In response to the findings, a summit was held in June 2021 with the following actions pledged as solutions to these issues. Plans include:
- Developing a virtual waiting room to support children and young people waiting for mental health treatment, resourcing parent groups to offer peer-to-peer support, investing in mental health practitioners based in community organisations, working towards developing a culturally competent workforce.
- Championing the living wage within the health sector.
- Supporting hundreds of local people to become Mental Health Champions and the developing of Mental Health Hubs.
- Working with councils and community groups to develop a social isolation, loneliness and digital inclusion strategies.
When talking of the summit, David Bradley, Chief Executive of South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“This marked the launch of a two-year programme of work to ensure local people and communities recover from the pandemic together. Thank you to NHS Charities Together for their ongoing support. This is hugely exciting and a real step forward.”
Ranjeet Kaile, Director of Communications, Stakeholder Engagement and Public Affairs, said:
“South London Listens enabled us to hear from almost 6,000 people who have been most affected by the pandemic and find tangible solutions to build stronger, mentally healthier communities for the future together. This innovative programme will see us work hand in hand with our communities to support people’s mental health to prevent people across South London from becoming unwell.”
The ongoing need for support
South London Listens is just one project we have invested in to tackle the often-hidden impact of the pandemic. With your help we have been able to invest in a range of projects including those with a focus on tackling isolation for vulnerable groups and communities.
However, the need has never been more urgent to protect community health and wellbeing. Since the pandemic, society has changed unrecognisably, affecting the way people interact, the employment landscape, and exacerbating issues faced by those most vulnerable. Please, keep showing you care and help us build a healthier nation with NHS care available to everyone.