People’s mental wellbeing will play a crucial role in every aspect of recovery planning, the LGA has said in a new joint report with the Centre for Mental Health.
This includes schools reopening, workers returning from furlough, people who have been shielding, dealing with the economic and housing consequences of coronavirus, and planning for possible further spikes in infections.
The report says a national focus is now needed on helping everyone stay mentally well, including those affected by COVID-19. This should be backed up by funding for councils to spend with local partners, such as the voluntary and community sector, to meet their communities’ mental wellbeing needs.
The total cost to society of mental health problems in the UK was £119 billion in 2018/19, with research showing that children from the poorest 20 per cent of households are four times as likely to have serious mental health difficulties by the age of 11 than those from the wealthiest 20 per cent. A separate NHS Confederation report revealed that mental health services are facing rising demand because of coronavirus.
Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Councils have always had an important role in improving and maintaining people’s mental wellness, but coronavirus has proven the value of this more than ever.
“Our mental health is so closely linked with other essential areas of our lives, including housing, employment, social inclusion and economic development. Councils are uniquely placed to use their services to connect all parts of this system together and help ensure the country is prepared for the future.
“We need to refocus our policies and funding towards these preventative local services, to help reduce health inequalities and ensure better mental health for all.”