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Agenda item

Covid 19 Pandemic and Mental Health

Report of the Director of Strategy and Commissioning, Sheffield City Council People Portfolio and Director of Commissioning and Performance, NHS Sheffield CCG.



The Committee received a report giving an update on how the Covid 19 Pandemic had impacted on the emotional and mental wellbeing of the people of Sheffield. 




Present for this item were Heather Burns (Head of Commissioning (Mental Health, Learning Disability, Autism and Dementia) NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)), Sandie Buchan (Director of Commissioning Development Sheffield CCG), Colette Harvey (Sheffield MIND), Sam Martin (Head of Commissioning for Vulnerable People, Sheffield City Council), Eleanor Rutter (Consultant in Public Health), Joanna Rutter (Health Improvement Principal, Sheffield City Council), Steve Thomas (Clinical Director for Mental Health, Learning Disability and Dementia, Sheffield CCG) and Councillor George Lindars Hammond (Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care).




Sam Martin introduced the report stating that since August, 2020, a comprehensive Impact Assessment on Mental Health had been completed, the assessment had formed of a suite of rapid impact assessments, commissioned by the Sheffield Health and Wellbeing Board, and conducted to assess the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on mental health. He stated that the purpose of the report was to provide Members with more detail of the likely ongoing impact of the pandemic on mental health and emotional wellbeing, based on local and national emerging evidence, and he  referred to a short update at the beginning of the report on the recommendations contained within the rapid impact assessment report.




Colette Harvey said that her role within Sheffield MIND was to co-ordinate up to 50 community groups and organisations across the City which focused on mental health.  She gave a brief update on service demands and said that overall data showed that as the pandemic continued, mental health problems had worsened and the charity was dealing with more complex cases, as people were experiencing disadvantage and there were growing issues around housing, employment, relationships, financial uncertainty, and the impact of long-covid. She said many people had expressed their nervousness of when the restrictions were lifted.  She said that community associations were overstretched and their resources were overstretched to enable them to support communities in their homes.  The lockdown had impacted on mental health, social isolation and increased levels of stress and anxiety so there was a need for preventative support.  The pandemic had impacted on the mental health of the black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities in particular, but also other groups such as children, young people, carers, those whose lives were complex, digital exclusion, and also people who had been bereaved, so there was a need for more resources to be put into these areas.  People with autism were facing difficulties at being unable to access mental health services.




Members of the Committee made various comments and asked a number of questions, to which responses were given as follows:-




·                It was not known whether long covid had more of an impact on women than men. Work with clinicians was being carried out following discharge from intensive care wards and follow up on the psychological wellbeing of those patients.  The CCG was to investigate whether there were any trends in gender or traits to see if Covid had more of an impact on these groups.  Meetings had taken place with the deaf community to identify their problems throughout the pandemic.




·                Statistics had shown that there was a disproportionate burden on women not only contracting the disease, but also the socio-impact on women who had disproportionately lost their jobs, had shouldered the increased burden of caring both for children and elder relatives or visiting relatives in care homes.  It was thought that many of the socio-economic problems caused by Covid, could ultimately lead to suicide, as well as poverty, isolation, unemployment etc. Regarding intersectionality and strains within the system, those that were disadvantaged suffered more, whether they were women or from the BAME community and this needed to be addressed.




·                The Sheffield Psychology Board had carried out a lot of work at the start of the pandemic giving advice and psychological wellbeing advice targeted at certain groups, but the information needed to be revisited on how to give advice moving forward.  Leaflets had been distributed in 30 supermarkets around the city giving advice on the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) Services.  In terms of how we come out of lockdown, there was a need to look at several areas on how to offer targeted support. The mantra of “It’s OK not to feel OK” was applicable to all because everyone had experience of the pandemic and had been impacted upon in some way, and it was perfectly acceptable to have good days and bad days, but people should be aware of where to access mental health services if required.  The Sheffield IAPT website contained very useful information, some regarding self-help. 




·                The narrative about recovery and coming out of lockdown was a national narrative but we have a local role to play.  There was a need to develop resilience specific service delivery that can grow and respond to needs as they emerge.




·                Non-medicalisation doesn’t negate or decrease the impact on the severity of mental illness, the perspective changes so there was a need for preventative level education to bring people’s attention to what was important and point them in the direction of what was important to minimise risk.  Employers have a responsibility for the health and wellbeing of their employees and, in the city, the Sheffield Occupational Health Advisory Service looks at risk and challenges around employment and offers advice to employers.




·                There had been a dramatic increase in the numbers of referrals and retention in secondary care under the Mental Health Act, as there had been an increase in the police bringing in people in mental distress.  It was difficult to forecast what Covid would do to demand for mental health services, but there were toolkits available to try and do some local modelling to see where demand might start to emerge.  As a Joint Commissioning Service, it was not intended to “wait and see”, but to try and get ahead in anticipating demand. Things have got worse form a Council social care perspective, spending had gone up although if was not possible to identify any spend that could be directly due to Covid.  Home care costs were rising due to people staying more in their homes and there were big pressures on the system.




·                There has been an indication from the spending review that additional funding of around £5m for Sheffield would be made available to identify pressures and where investment was needed the most to make a difference. The CCG and its partners would be looking at, amongst other services, perinatal mental health services, children’s support and crisis intervention services and individual placement support services for those with mental health conditions.




·                Particularly around IAPT, going forward in a joint commissioning way we must make sure that its not just about improving services, but a need to communicate to the public what was being done well and by working together to make Sheffield a mentally well healthy city.




·                One of the recommendations contained within the impact assessment was for additional resources to be made available to the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) and this investment was being made to develop a framework for rapid and progressive commissioning of mental health services to enable a timely response to changing community mental health support needs and service demands.




·                Funding bids had been put together and one such funding stream that had been successful was the creation of crisis buddies and it was planned to place some of those crisis buddies where needed with the assistance of the voluntary sector.  We are trying to get a closer relationship with the VCS to collaborate more, to develop bids together and look where to invest additional resource into the VCS.




·                There was a strategic approach to VCS, and the Accountable Care Partnerships (ACP) hold a strategic position and was working with VCS colleagues who were members of the ACP, looking at the approach to Sheffield as a whole.  The Primary Care Mental Health Framework has four Primary Care Networks covering 200,000 of population and VCS colleagues were working into that programme and £300,000 had been invested into that programme for delivery through VCS colleagues.




RESOLVED: That the Committee:-




(a)      thanks Heather Burns, Sandie Buchan, Collette Harvey, Sam Martin, Eleanor Rutter, Joanna Rutter, Steve Thomas and Councillor George Lindars Hammond for their contribution to the meeting; and




(b)      notes the contents of the report and responses to the questions raised.


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