Mental health support

The Government has issued guidance about looking after wellbeing during the pandemic, as well as a £5m pot to help charities support people’s mental health.

The guidance, from Public Health England, sets out principles to follow including maintaining contact with friends and family, keeping a regular routine and sleeping pattern, and focusing on a hobby or learning something new. It also includes advice for parents and carers on looking after children’s mental health.

Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director at Public Health England said:

During these challenging times, it is natural for all of us to feel worried or anxious, but there are things we can all do to help ourselves and others, to prevent these feelings from becoming more serious.

We should continue to check up on friends, family and neighbours by phone or online and pursue the activities we are able to do from home and in line with guidance. By adopting a new routine, setting goals, eating healthily and maintaining physical activity, we can stay in good mental health today and tomorrow.

The Government has also announced a £5 million grant for mental health. The fund, which will be administered by Mind, will be used by the charity sector to support people struggling with their mental health, including telephone and online support services

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said:

We are facing one of the toughest ever times for our mental wellbeing as a nation. It is absolutely vital that people pull together and do all they can to look after themselves and their loved ones, when we are all facing a huge amount of change and uncertainty. Reaching out to friends and family is critical, as well as paying attention to the impact our physical health can have on our mental health - from diet and exercise to getting enough natural light and a little fresh air.

Charities like Mind have a role to play in helping people cope not only with the initial emergency but coming to terms with how this will affect us well into the future. Whether we have an existing mental health problem or not, we are all going to need extra help to deal with the consequences of this unprecedented set of circumstances.

For advice and information about managing your mental health and improving your wellbeing during the outbreak, visit Mind’s coronavirus information page.

Locally, the Sutton Mental Health Foundation is on hand to offer help and support. To contact them, please call 020 8770 0172. You will be able to record a message. Please keep this brief, giving your name and contact number and the reason for your call. They aim to call you back within 24 hours, and if possible sooner.

You can also email admin@smhf.org.uk. If you are in urgent need please contact Samaritans on 116 123 or go to Helpful contacts for a list of organisations that may be able to help.

Please think what you can do to help stop other people feeling isolated during this emergency – many will be pleased to receive a phone call from time to time. And take care of yourself: use the Five Ways to Wellbeing to keep well.

The South West London and St George's NHS Trust opened a new emergency service on Monday 30 March to support patients who need urgent mental health care.

The Orchid Mental Health Emergency Department is a dedicated crisis centre, based at Springfield University Hospital, which will serve as an alternative to acute hospital Emergency Departments, enabling patients of any age, including children, to attend a dedicated Mental Health Emergency Service set up specifically for this purpose and to protect patients and service users, where possible, against the virus by reducing the need to attend acute hospitals..

Those who need mental health support should call South West London and St. George’s NHS Trust’s mental health support line on 0800 028 8000.

Organisations who can refer patients to these services include Acute Trust Emergency Departments, Police, London Ambulance Service and NHS 111.

A screening process must take place before patients are referred to the service, to ensure any physical health problems do not require urgent medical attention. Therefore, these services do not operate on a ‘walk-in’ basis but take referrals through the mental health support line and through the organisations listed above.

REMEMBER: If you have a question, concern or need help with anything related to the Coronavirus, then please do email me at elliot.colburn.mp@parliament.uk or call 020 7219 5862 - my team and I are working flat out to make sure everyone gets access to the help and advice they need.