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South London Listens: NHS survey reveals toll of Covid-19 on south Londoners' mental health

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

An NHS survey has revealed the toll the Covid-19 pandemic has taken on south Londoners’ mental health – and the difficulty many have had in accessing support.

Find out more about South London Listens

Almost half of the 577 people who took part said they have experienced depressive symptoms during the pandemic while 42% reported feelings of anxiety. However, the numbers of people accessing support for such conditions barely rose over the last 15 months - almost half (48%) did not know how to do so. The survey suggests that this information gap is particularly significant amongst people aged 18-34.

The three local NHS mental health trusts, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust and South West London and St George's NHS Trust, commissioned the research ahead of the South London Listens Zoom summit on 16 June.  NHS organisations and councils will join with local people to agree and commit to the key actions needed to address the impact of the pandemic on local people. The survey reinforces feedback from small group sessions led by community leaders which have heard the experiences and challenges faced by more than 5,700 local people during the pandemic.

The mental health trusts hope that hundreds of people will join the Zoom summit to shape their response to the most pressing problems faced by local people and to plan the recovery from the pandemic. People can register here for the event, which will be held from 6pm-8pm on June 16th.

The survey also highlighted a range of issues around job security, financial worries, schooling and access to green spaces that will be discussed at the summit.

These include:

  • Many respondents, particularly those aged 18-34 and people with a disability or long-term condition, have experienced feelings of loneliness (76%), isolation (78%) and powerlessness (81%) since the start of the pandemic.
  • Two-thirds of the respondents reported that their work-life balance has got worse and 38% worry about job security.
  • Half the respondents from an ethnic minority background have struggled to pay the bills at some point since the start of the pandemic.
  • Some 42% had difficulty accessing green spaces during lockdown.
  • Parents reported they were struggling with parenting duties (54%), home-schooling (58%) and ensuring their children accessed education (57%).
  • Access to education for their children and other problems were exacerbated by poor internet connection, with 58% struggling with this at some point during the pandemic and 18% of people from ethnic minority groups having no internet access at all.

David Bradley, Chief Executive of South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This cruel pandemic has affected so many of the people we serve in many different ways. We must ensure that our response meets the scale of this challenge. And that it addresses both the mental health problems many have experienced and the underlying issues contributing to those problems. We all hope this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience so if anyone was ever going to get involved in helping to plan local services now is that time.”



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