Talking about Covid

Our Senior Business Development Manager, Amie Dobinson, blogs about her first-ever podcast in which she joined a group of experts to discuss the mental health effects of Covid-19.

I’m not sure if it’s plagiarism copying a quote of a quote, but a few months ago, in another mental health blog, the writer wrote: “J. F. Kennedy once said: The word crisis in Chinese is composed of two characters; one represents ‘danger’ and the other represents ‘opportunity.’”

This quote has stuck with me throughout Covid-19. While we have experienced the devastation of the pandemic, we have also managed to maintain a strong sense of community spirit.  Yesterday, on my very first podcast with the Care Forum, I was asked to reflect on these two opposing themes and on what the sector can do to work better together going forward.

Covid-19 has exposed the inequalities in society

It goes without saying the impact of mental health on communities has been significant. Although it is hard to keep up with statistics, the Health Foundation reported that in June 63% of the UK population feel anxious about the future. In addition, prevalence of serious mental illness had also increased by 8.1%. What this shows is not only an increase in mental health need but also an increase in the level of acuity too. The factors that protect our mental health such as: employment, relationships, good housing and financial stability, have all been negatively impacted on. And of course, we know it hasn’t affected us equally. Covid-19 has put into sharp focus the deep vein of inequalities that already existed in society. It has highlighted that people living in the most deprived areas and black ethnic minority communities are twice as likely to be killed by Covid-19. The next Care Forum podcast will discuss inequalities and how we address some of the harsh realities of the pandemic.

We discussed what the pandemic had meant for the organisations we work for. The challenges for Second Step, which were echoed by the other panellists, include: adapting quickly to change, developing digital support offers and maintaining a sense of ‘team’ while navigating the new world of virtual platforms. We joked that ‘Zoom Fatigue’ should be up there on the shortlist for 2020 Word of the Year.

Looking forward and working together

With that said, opportunity has emerged from the pandemic. I personally have felt a greater sense of collaboration with both voluntary sector partners and commissioners. Partnership work has never been more vital and Covid-19 has forced us to think outside of our organisational silos. Across the local commissioning area, 60 partners including Second Step, have worked with commissioners to support the development of an emergency population-wide mental health offer. As the journey ahead continues, and at times feels long, we should continue to collaborate at system-level, listen to people who have their own personal experiences of living with mental health problems (so important!), share resources and generate spaces for creative solutions. Our values of hope and courage have never been more needed. The panellists, including two very lovely podcast dogs, have been invited back to The Care Forum early next year to reflect again on what the future holds in (dare I say it), ‘the new world…

You can find out more and view The Care Forum’s Video Podcast here.

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