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Pandemic widens inequalities in mental health, says Hampshire County Council

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SOCIAL inequalities in mental health have been widened as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to reports.

Hampshire County Council’s director of public health, Simon Bryant, has published a report into the imbalance of mental health and wellbeing in Hampshire, writes David George of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

He believes that the interruption to services – sparked by the pandemic – and trauma and violence experienced during lockdowns have both widened and deepened the inequalities.

Eight recommendations have been put forward to improve the healthcare system
Eight recommendations have been put forward to improve the healthcare system

This means that people with psycho-social factors or health problems have become further disadvantaged in the mental health system, with reports of increased loneliness, anxiety and depression.

Mr Bryant has put forward eight recommendations to improve the healthcare system, including closer working with the community and voluntary sector and a prevention-focused approach going forward.

Associate director of public health, Johanna Jefferies, presented the report to the county council’s latest cabinet meeting.

She said: ‘The recommendations build upon the work already taking place across the county.

"It’s difficult to comment on what the health service would see as essential, but what I would say is that there is a growing recognition of the importance of integrating mental health with physical health treatment."

Executive lead member for adult services and public health, Cllr Liz Fairhurst, said: "I really welcome this report.

"There is no doubt that Covid-19 has had a really detrimental effect on people, so I would encourage anyone to come out and open up about their mental health."

Executive lead member for children’s services, Cllr Roz Chadd, is also fearful of the impact the pandemic has had on young people’s mental health.

A report published by the the Hampshire, Southampton and Isle of Wight CCG last year suggested that more than 34,000 children in the region now have a probable mental health disorder.

Cllr Chadd said: "I am very grateful for this report and would like to highlight the fact that young people in Hampshire have really not had the best of times recently.

"The past two years have been so unusual for them, particularly for the early years who are starting school and not known anything different.

"It’s important that we keep an eye on our young people and their mental health going forward, because I think we’re going to see the impact for many years to come."

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