While primarily seen as a physical health issue, COVID-19 has had huge implications for mental health services and the wider health and care system.
As we move beyond the immediate emergency, this theme will highlight the need for vital additional resources for mental health as the system prepares to simultaneously meet increased demand, safeguard staff wellbeing and support some of the most vulnerable in our society.
The impact of COVID-19 on mental health services will be felt long after the physical health crisis subsides. The sector anticipates increased demand for mental health services in the coming weeks and months, as both people with pre-existing mental health conditions and the general public are impacted by self-isolation, financial insecurity, bereavement, and increases in substance abuse and domestic violence. Existing societal inequalities are also likely to be exacerbated, with certain groups disproportionately affected.
Providers will need to meet this additional demand while also maintaining core services, ensuring the safety and wellbeing of staff, and implementing the ambitions of the Long Term Plan. This will require significant financial and workforce resourcing as well as multi-sector and cross-government collaboration. Service-user involvement in the design, delivery and evaluation of services will be essential to ensure we are meeting the needs of those who access care.
There is an appetite for continued improvement and innovation: the COVID-19 emergency has made clear just what is possible within the sector as organisations adapt to meet unprecedented challenges. Mental health emergency departments have been set up within days, digital solutions implemented at pace, and nationwide support lines have opened a year ahead of the deadline set in the NHS Long Term Plan.
All parts of the health and care system will be treating patients whose mental health has been impacted by the pandemic. We know that when patients’ mental wellbeing is looked after, physical health outcomes are better; the provision of appropriate psychological support will positively impact the entire health and care system.
This campaign will call on decision makers to ensure that the mental health sector has the resources it needs to function post COVID-19. NHS Reset will highlight key progress and innovation within the mental health sector, celebrate successful partnership working between providers and share examples of best practice.
Members reflect on 'reset'
- In our new blog series, leaders from across the NHS Confederation and wider health and care sector share their reflections and learning on the COVID-19 period.
- In our NHS Reset podcast, mental health service user Ken Taylor speaks to Dr Julie Hankin about what this period will mean for the delivery of services in the aftermath of the pandemic.
- And in this video, Dr Phil Moore reflects on what needs to happen next to enable change and support staff and the public in the months to come.
Find out more and get involved
To find out more, please contact Mentalhealthnetwork@nhsconfed.org See how you can get involved.