As coronavirus and the restrictions and measures which were taken to counteract it put an increased strain on people’s mental health, the British Medical Association (BMA) has suggested there is an urgent need for further investment and innovation into mental health care to ensure the NHS is able to cope with greater demand and need.
Vulnerable people have been most affected by the lockdown, with those with existing mental illnesses finding their symptoms worsen in many cases, while elsewhere clinicians are seeing previously well people suffering poor mental health and engaging with the health service for the first time.
In response, the BMA is calling for a Government mental health strategy which is Covid-19 ready. This includes a call to see action from Government to fund and equip services which meet the anticipated increase in demand, making it easier for anyone who needs it.
The calls include a need to make dedicated funding available to clinical commissioning groups.
Andrew Molodynski, BMA Mental Health Policy Lead, described the need to prioritise preventative measures through the introduction of a ‘mental health in all policies’ approach to Government policy making to encourage policies which promote good mental health and which address the challenges ahead.
In Mr Molodynski and the BMA’s eyes, mental health services are still not ready for such a surge in demand, having been weakened over the years as a result of austerity measures. Now, there is the need to invest and promptly rebuild that service resiliency to help the NHS prepare for the potentially significant increase in mental health care demand.
As Mr Molodynski wrote: “Investment, innovation, and a release from mindless bureaucracy will be needed alongside a clearer patient and carer focus.”