Town hall leaders have called for urgent investment in mental health and other vital local services to help the country in the next phases of the pandemic.
In a new joint report, the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Centre for Mental Health said a national focus is needed on helping everyone stay mentally well, including those affected by COVID-19.
The report warns this must be backed-up by funding for councils to spend with local partners, including the voluntary and community sector, on meeting their communities’ mental wellbeing needs.
The total cost to society of mental health problems in the UK was £119bn in 2018/19 and research found that children from the poorest 20% of households are four times as likely to have serious mental health difficulties by the age of 11 than those from the wealthiest 20%.
The chairman of the LGA’s community wellbeing board, Cllr Ian Hudspeth, said: ‘Good mental health is in everyone’s interest, especially as we look to move into the next phase of the pandemic.
‘The lockdown had a profound impact on everyone, leaving many of us unable to go to work or school, meet family and friends, go to the shops or take part in leisure and cultural activities. The very things that support our mental wellbeing and which we often took for granted, were suddenly taken away.
‘Councils have always had an important role in improving and maintaining people’s mental wellness, from childhood to old age, but coronavirus has proven the value of this more than ever,’ he added.
‘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.
‘As this report states, 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.’
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