Big Conversation Portsmouth: 'Troubling' survey figures reveal the pandemic's effect on Portsmouth's mental health

PEOPLE struggling in silence with their mental health have been encouraged to speak up after ‘troubling’ statistics emerged from a post-lockdown survey by The News.

Monday, 12th October 2020, 7:00 am

In a poll of more than 1,000 Portsmouth-area people, The Big Conversation found 61.4 per cent have seen their mental health affected by the pandemic.

‘Splintering’ of usual support systems during lockdown and constant Covid-19 media could be two influences, an expert said.

It coincides with an increase in people who sought local mental health help during lockdown.

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Francesca Blackburn, the adult services lead for Havant and East Hannts Mind. Picture: Havant and East Hants Mind

Francesca Blackburn, adult services lead at Havant and East Hampshire Mind, called the figures ‘troubling’ yet ‘unsurprising’.

She told The News: ‘Unfortunately it echoes the feedback we have been receiving from clients and the presenting issues they have when accessing our services.

‘We have seen a marked increase in clients experiencing crippling anxiety, as well as sadly experiencing suicidal thoughts and self-harm.

‘In the lockdown period from March to June, compared with the same months last year, we supported approximately 400 more clients with their mental health needs across adults’ and children’s projects.

‘We also made 1,000 more telephone calls than last year to clients as a result of not being able to help people face to face.’

The Big Conversation ran across all main JPIMedia titles and 66.3 per cent of people nationally said their mental wellbeing has been affected.

The local uptick was enough to warrant new services at Havant and East Hants Mind, which has helped about 1,000 people since March.

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‘We have also commissioned a brand new service as a result of the pandemic – the Children’s Crisis Line (0300 3031 590),’ Francesca said.

‘This is a direct response to the increase in children experiencing emotional crisis as a result of the pandemic, or problems stemming from it – such as family issues, stress, housing, employment, or cancelled or delayed mental health treatment for families and children.’

She added: ‘We implore people to check in with their own mental health regularly, as well as with their loved ones’, to recognise any signs of struggling,’ Francesca said.

‘The pandemic and its repercussions have obliterated many aspects of peoples’ lives that usually help to ground them or anchor their emotional stability.

‘People need to be ringing 111 if they are experiencing a mental health crisis and accessing support local to them, such as our Adults’ Safe Haven (0300 3031 560).’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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