Mental health inquiry calls for sustainable funding and a focus on prevention
Sustainable funding and a focus on prevention are necessary to meet the lasting impact of the pandemic on the nation’s mental health, according to a report published today by the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC).
The APCC’s Mental Health Lead, Kent Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Matthew Scott, opened an inquiry into mental health and Covid-19 last year. After speaking to other elected PCCs, police forces, health practitioners, and mental health support services, he identified that police resources had often been diverted from crime to care responsibilities. Health officials also described inappropriate referrals to their services, and felt as if they were being asked to fill a gap due to limited availability of community support.
Mr Scott said: “One of the clear recommendations to emerge from the inquiry is the need for greater focus and prioritisation of early intervention and prevention around mental health. Representatives were concerned that, if the pandemic does have a lasting impact on the nation’s mental health, then there is a need for sustainable funding to provide and deliver services that will prevent and respond to mental health issues.
“Elected PCCs can play a significant role addressing the needs of our communities and ensuring vulnerable people receive the right support at the right time. I urge my fellow PCCs to take these recommendations forward locally and use their democratic mandate and convening powers to stimulate local activity.”
An initial call for evidence was issued in September 2020 seeking feedback from those working to deliver support to vulnerable people despite the limitations brought on by the first wave of the pandemic. A report, published in January on that first phase of the inquiry, found lockdowns had brought about changes to the types of demands on services, a new cohort of people seeking help who had no prior mental health-related issues, and limited capacity in mental health settings due to the need to social distance.
Mr Scott added: “I would like to acknowledge the amazing work of our emergency services and dedicated mental health support workers for their response to mental health demands during this pandemic. I also want to thank all those who took the time to inform and shape this work.
“If we can encourage just one person to access vital mental health support, prevent a suicide, or bring together organisations and individuals from across the sector to discuss mental health, then these recommendations will have made a difference.”