The outbreak of coronavirus is an understandably anxious time for many – so councils, police and NHS partners are urging residents to seek mental health support if they’re in need.
Councils, police and the NHS across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are coming together during Mental Health Awareness Week (18th – 24th May) to encourage residents who are experiencing mental health concerns during the pandemic to seek support. There is no need to suffer in silence with mental or emotional distress, as help is at hand both locally and nationally.
By visiting the Start a Conversation website – www.startaconversation.co.uk – residents will be able to find a range of information on services that can provide help during a crisis, as well as how to maintain good mental health and provide support to family and friends.
Those working in partnership to promote these messages are Leicestershire County Council, which leads the Start a Conversation suicide prevention campaign; Leicester City Council and Rutland County Council; Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust and Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Clinical Commissioning Groups; and Leicestershire Police, including the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC).
Tailored mental health information, advice and support is available via the Start a Conversation website on a three-tier basis: for those in crisis, who require urgent or emergency help; for those experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety, who are struggling to cope; and for those who are more worried than usual and wish to improve their mental wellbeing.
Cllr Lee Breckon, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown are presenting a range of challenges to our mental health, with an increased number of residents across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland sadly reaching crisis point and unsure of where to turn. We hope these resources help to signpost people to the most appropriate support for them in a clear and effective way.”
Leicester’s assistant city mayor for public health, Cllr Vi Dempster, said: “For people with mental health problems, the lockdown can be even more isolating – but we’re here to help. From specialist services for people in a crisis to sources of self-help if you’re feeling more anxious than usual, we’re working together to help you to find the support you need. Remember: you are not alone.”
Cllr Alan Walters, cabinet member for adult social care and health at Rutland County Council, said: “In the middle of a global health crisis that affects everyone, everywhere, it’s important we don’t lose sight of our own individual mental health needs. These are genuinely troubling times. People may be experiencing work stress, tension within their family, financial uncertainty or general anxiety, all as a result of this virus. However you’re feeling and whatever your circumstances, it’s important that you know help and support is available.”
Dr Sue Elcock, medical director for Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, commented: “We recognise the emotional burden the current unprecedented changes to daily life can potentially exert on people of all ages.
“Our new central access point number – 0116 295 3060 – is a 24-hour helpline where anyone of any age in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland can get NHS advice and support for urgent mental health needs. We also have information on our website, www.leicspart.nhs.uk, about other sources of urgent and non-urgent help, including LPT services you can access directly and links to the Start a conversation site and resources.”
Chief Inspector Steve Riley, mental health lead for Leicestershire Police, said: “We have seen a significant increase in calls relating to mental health over the past few weeks. Leicestershire Police recognise the importance of mental health and stand ready to assist our partners, the ambulance service and Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust.”
Police and Crime Commissioner, Lord Willy Bach, said: “I would urge anyone who is struggling to cope to access the support available to them. I can’t stress enough that it is a sign of strength to seek help and we have all worked hard to ensure that services remain accessible.
“Many people suffer from loneliness at any time, but the feelings of isolation and anxiety at the moment may well be heightened for very understandable reasons. I’m really pleased to join with our partners in promoting these resources which will provide vital support to those with mental health needs when they need it most.”
To download the COVID-19 mental health resource pack, which includes a poster, a list of local and national support services catering for a range of circumstances and needs, and lifestyle tips based on the Five Ways to Wellbeing, go to www.startaconversation.co.uk/coronavirus-and-mental-wellbeing.