A clear distinction is often made between “mind” and “body”. But when considering mental health and physical health the two should not be thought of as separate. Poor physical health can lead to a increased risk of developing mental health problems. Similarly, poor mental health can negatively impact on physical health, leading to an increased risk of some conditions.
The Mental Health Foundation has in the past described the unacceptably high level of mental ill health as the public health issue of our time and now we are facing the universal health challenge of coronavirus. The mental health effects of Covid 19 on the general population may be profound and long lasting. A Consultant in Acute Medicine in Coventry Infirmary has commented on the large increase in the numbers of people in crisis presenting in the emergency department, many of whom have no history of depression or anxiety.
As a public health organisation, Braveheart has an opportunity to further develop our community mental health support to address the increase in mental health problems as a result of the pandemic and its extensive social and economic consequences. We have proven our peer support groups can reduce sustained feelings of loneliness and promote feelings of belonging, which are useful mechanisms in dealing with emotional problems. People attending groups are informed of all Braveheart activities and supported to join those if they wish. Joining in with community life, making social connections and having a voice in group decisions are all factors that make a vital contribution to health and wellbeing. As always engaging with our communities will enable us to provide services such as mental health drop in cafes that best meet community members needs.
It seems that the pandemic has disrupted most aspects of our daily lives and usual routines. One thing that hasn’t changed is the value of Braveheart’s mission to help people understand, protect and sustain both physical and mental health.