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News and Comment January 2021

Index: 2019202020212022

28 January (Part 1) - Bexley Council hears how the NHS’s Covid priority impacts mental health

Listening live but not very intently to the Children’s and Adults’ Services Committee meeting more than a week ago I formed the impression that there would be little worthy of a detailed report here but having listened to it again it is clear that that the mental health issues brought about by the succession of lockdowns should not be ignored.

Unsurprisingly the Oxleas NHS Trust reported that Covid had taken its toll on mental health with anxiety, depression and grief being exacerbating factors. Some people have stayed away from sources of help while others have turned up at emergency in various states of distress. “London Ambulance call outs to people who had caused themselves harm or attempted to take their own lives; there was a real surge over the summer.” Carers have been saying they cannot cope any more and there is now a fast response vehicle on call that carries a mental health nurse.

More than 4,000 people have been helped directly by MIND with about 15,000 appointments offered. Unemployment, financial worries, housing, relationships and domestic violence have been of particular concern. A variety of workshops have been set up, everything from creative writing to anger management. Isolation has led to psychosis and suicide. Funding is beginning to be a problem.

A workshop has been devoted to the additional problems suffered by the BAME community in the North of the borough which has “significant issues” relating to “domestic violence, tensions and anxieties” as well as health. Young black men have been suffering disproportionately from the impact of Covid restrictions. Oxleas reported that BAME mental health staff were at particular risk because not all of their work can be carried out remotely. The mental health bed situation is “tight but we are managing it” without sending patients out of the area. “The right number of beds are available” and more beds could be made available. “The stress is on community teams” who have not taken their leave and see no end in sight.


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