Woman writing on a clipboard next to person lying on a bed

Professor Russell Mannion and Dr Fred Konteh from HSMC, with colleagues at the University of York, are being funded by The Health Foundation to undertake a national study exploring the impact of the pandemic on mental health services.

The devastating loss of life, social isolation and social distancing measures designed to prevent the spread of coronavirus are having a profound impact on the way we live and on people's mental health. These restrictions have been linked to increased anxiety, depression, self-harm, and suicide attempts as well as rising levels of financial hardship, unemployment and domestic abuse. Indeed, the huge toll on mental health and wellbeing—and thus demand for mental health services—is likely to be more enduring than the immediate physical health impact of the pandemic.

 It is clear that the pandemic has placed unprecedented pressures on an already strained NHS. This mixed methods study will use quantitative data (Health Episode Statistics) to capture changes in demand and activity across all Mental Health Trusts in England. In particular it will explore the impact of the pandemic on inequalities in access to mental health services by socio-economic status and ethnicity. In-depth comparative case studies will also explore how mental health services are being redesigned for patients and users and the opportunities taken to accelerate new ways of working and embed innovation. The findings will be used to inform the future design of mental health services and to identify lessons that can be learned for future pandemic preparedness and times of sustained crisis.