World Mental Health Day 2021: Mental health in an unequal world

Published Thursday, 07 October 2021

Health and care partners across Coventry and Warwickshire are marking World Mental Health Day on 10 October.

World Mental Health Day 2021: Mental health in an unequal world

This year is about raising awareness of mental health inequalities and what people can do to overcome them and improve mental health and wellbeing for everyone.

Health inequalities are avoidable differences in health across the population, and between different groups of people. They are determined by circumstances largely beyond an individual’s control, such as the conditions in which they live, work, grow and age, which put them at an unfair disadvantage, limiting their opportunities to live longer and healthier lives.

COVID-19 has highlighted how inequalities in our society can have real consequences for people’s health, and data has shown the mental health effects of the pandemic have hit some groups harder than others. There have been changes to society that influence mental health, such as increased unemployment and social isolation. These have impacted on how people access services and have led to a decline in the mental wellbeing of young people and women in particular.

Those with existing long-term physical or mental health conditions, younger people, people who are unemployed, people who identify as LGBTIQ+ and older people have experienced greater declines in their mental and emotional health during the pandemic compared to the general population.

The Coventry and Warwickshire Mental Health Needs Assessment (2021) identified that people living in the 20% most deprived areas were three times more likely to be admitted to hospital with a severe mental illness than people living in the most affluent areas. Asylum seekers are five times more likely to experience mental health issues and people from non-white British ethnicities have lower access rates to support services for common mental health issues. Close to half of people who are homeless and rough sleeping live with a mental health diagnosis and the majority experience mental health difficulties.

A case study from Coventry organisation Inini, which help those struggling with their mental health and accessing the right support, while they go through the integration process into new communities after first arriving in the UK, can be found on the Dear Life blog.

There are many things people can do to boost their mental health and emotional wellbeing and support each other. Evidence suggests there are Five Ways to Wellbeing that help you feel more positive and able to get the most out of life – connect, keep learning, be active, give and take notice. There are also local services that can provide help and support, on the Dear Life website.

Knowing others have faced similar struggles can really help people to cope with their own difficulties so we would like to encourage people to be open about their experiences, past or current. The majority of us have likely experienced negative impacts on our wellbeing during the pandemic period.

Businesses and organisations across the region can find out what they can do for employees by getting involved with the Build Back Stronger, Build Back Fairer Call to Action. World Mental Health Day is a great time to start by considering how they can help to address health inequalities through their working practices by taking a couple of small actions to reduce health inequalities, including mental and emotional wellbeing.

Employers could see many benefits in helping to tackle these inequalities, including a healthier and more committed workforce, reduced staff turnover, positive relationships being built within communities and enhanced productivity and profitability. This short Call to Action video explains this is needed and why it is being supported across Coventry and Warwickshire.

Coventry City Councillor Kamran Caan, portfolio holder for Public Health and Sport, said: “There is more need for meaningful support in the community this World Mental Health Day than before because as we’ve navigated the challenges of COVID-19, working to tackle health inequalities has become even more relevant.

“Evidence tells us the pandemic has deepened existing inequalities, particularly with many facing barriers to good health and wellbeing. Over the last 18 months, we have worked closely with our partners and local organisations in Coventry and Warwickshire on initiatives such as the Call To Action campaign. This encourages local businesses to take on one or two actions that will start to combat and tackle existing inequalities. Employment, for example, is majorly important to mental health and to address the social conditions that cause health inequalities.

“During these unprecedented times, it has been vital that we have listened and engaged with our communities to build trust and support in our work to reduce health inequalities. Therefore we are committed to continuing to build strong relationships across our society to reduce health inequalities and increase the availability of mental health support for those in our communities that are struggling.”

Cllr Margaret Bell portfolio holder for Adult Social Care and Health, said: “The evidence tells us the pandemic has deepened inequalities across all aspects of health. There are many reasons why these inequalities exist and there is no one solution or one organisation that can solve this alone. It is important now, more than ever, that we all work together to help make a difference to our residents who will be affected most significantly by these inequalities.

“We know that the economy and health are closely linked and that employers can play a vital role in building a stronger and more resilient economy by investing in the health and wellbeing of their employees, local people and communities. I would urge all businesses and organisations to join the Call to Action and consider what commitment they can make to tackling this issue.

“Of course, it’s not just the responsibility of employers; everyone has a role to play in helping to break down the barriers preventing people from accessing support. A great place to start is to be kind to one another, and beyond that take the time to listen, ask if someone is really okay, and if not help them seek the support that they need.”

More information about the Call to Action and the steps that employers can take to reduce health inequalities.

The following local and national mental health support and helplines are available:

  • NHS Mental Health Access Hub for NHS crisis support. Freephone 08081 966798 - 24/7 service
  • Coventry and Warwickshire Rise crisis and home treatment team (NHS) (Children and young people’s mental health service) Freephone 08081 966798 (select Option 2) - 24/7 service
  • Mental Health Helpline Coventry and Warwickshire call 0800 616 171, free 24/7 and confidential helpline offering emotional support
  • The Samaritans call 116 123
  • Amparo provides free and confidential support for those bereaved by suicide to anyone living in Coventry and Warwickshire (all-age).
  • YoungMinds Crisis Messenger: text YM to 85258
  • Papyrus Hopeline UK suicide prevention helpline: call 0800 068 4141 or text 07860 039967
  • Kooth.com is available to 11 to 25 year olds across Coventry and Warwickshire, providing an anonymous online counselling and support service.
  • Dear Life website gives local support and contact details for those who need help, are worried about someone or have been bereaved by suicide
  • Stay Alive app provides help for those at risk of suicide and people worried about someone
  • Dimensions of Health and Wellbeing Tool offers immediate tailored self-help support and signposting to local services
  • Chat Health is a free service that enables 11–18-year-olds across Coventry and Warwickshire to send confidential SMS text messages to School Nurses who will provide impartial advice and support.
  • For Warwickshire, text 07507 331 525
  • For Coventry, text 07507 331 949
  • Coventry, Warwickshire and Solihull Healthy Mind Service (IAPT) for anyone with low mood, depression or anxiety. Call 024 7667 1090 or visit healthymindservice.com/self-referral
  • Warwickshire County Council page for information about mental health and emotional wellbeing support services and resources
  • Coventry City Council page for information about mental health and emotional wellbeing support services and resources
  • Wellbeing for Life is a campaign to provide information on how people can improve and take care of their health and wellbeing, plus find out more about the 5 Ways to Wellbeing.
  • NHS Every Mind Matters provides expert advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing

If you believe or are concerned someone’s life is in immediate danger, call 999.

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