Health and wellbeing charity calls for holistic approach to address inequalities.
Developing Healthy Communities (DHC) has welcomed the Department of Health’s new Mental Health Action Plan and Covid-19 Mental Health Response Plan. DHC Chief Executive, Erin Richardson especially welcomed the commitment to a cross-sectoral approach and stressed the need to address inequalities.
DHC is now launching a survey of community and voluntary organisations delivering health and wellbeing services on how the sector might help implement the Covid-19 Mental Health Response Plan.
Ms Richardson said: “We very much welcome the Mental Health Action Plan which was badly needed before the Coronavirus pandemic and is even more urgently needed now.
She commended the specific focus on mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in the standalone Response Plan which builds on the Mental Health Action Plan and other important initiatives such as the implementation of the Protect Life 2 strategy.
Inequalities mean the most vulnerable are worst affected.
Ms Richardson said that the mental health impacts of the pandemic are affecting people who are already struggling with mental health issues, especially in deprived areas such as Derry and Strabane.
“We are acutely aware of the impact of a range of factors including isolation and stress on psychological and mental wellbeing. We also recognise that challenges associated with pandemic will be exponentially worse in areas already experiencing high levels of health and social inequality.
“A speedy, holistic and robust response will be needed if we are to avoid disadvantages such as financial hardship or lack of access to technology and the internet widening and reinforcing the inequalities that were already of great concern in our region.”
Ms Richardson pointed to historically high levels of mental health and a legacy of trauma here.
“We need a trauma informed approach to our response, acknowledging that for many the experience of COVID-19 will have been traumatic, whether for those infected with the virus, or for those caring for COVID-19 patients on the frontline”.
She also highlighted trauma associated with struggling to meet basic household needs or dealing with increased levels of addiction and domestic violence during lockdown.
“It is essential that support is provided to meet the physical and practical needs of those who are disadvantaged, as we know that deprivation is one of the biggest barriers to achieving good mental and emotional wellbeing.”
“Community and voluntary organisations are already working closely with partners in health and social care to address these problems.
“The Covid 19 Mental Health Response Plan includes a cross-sectoral and strategic approach in areas including public health messaging and the provision of information, advice and support which are central to the work of many of our partner community and voluntary sector organisations.
“In the coming weeks, through our networks, we will engage with both the community and voluntary sector and our statutory partners to explore how this might best be done.
Anyone interested in making their views known or being involved in any way is invited to complete this online survey before 12 noon on Friday, 12th June.
Derry - Londonderry
T: 028 7161 1384
Unit 13, Strabane Enterprise Agency
Orchard Road Industrial Estate,
T: 028 7138 3386