Mental health, social isolation, and financial stress: Christmas in COVID-19 (Podcast interview)

One of the exciting new projects I have been involved in is the launch of a new podcast: Real World Public Mental Health. This podcast was developed as a forum to discuss how evidence can be used in the real world to prevent mental health problems and promote better mental health. It is hosted by Stu King of the Behavioural Science and Public Health Network in partnership with a bunch of collaborators, including our NIHR Public Mental Health Programme and Public Health England.

I was delighted to participate in the second episode, which has just been released. In this episode, I join Ed Davie and Caron Walker to discuss the impact of loneliness, social isolation, and financial strain on mental health problems, with consideration to the influence of COVID-19 and the start of the holiday season. You can listen below or at this link:

Social Inequalities – Professor Kate Pickett, Rose Ssali & Andy Bell Real World Public Mental Health

Guests:Professor Kate Pickett Professor of Epidemiology at Department of Health Sciences York, and the University's Research Champion for Justice and Equality.  She is co-author of The Spirit Level and The Inner Level and Co-Founder and Trustee of The Equality Trust. Kate is Co-Principal Investigator for the Born in Bradford study.Rose Ssali Programme Lead and Founder of Support and Action for Women Network (SAWN), which promotes the welfare of Black/African women in Oldham and Great Manchester. Rose has worked on immigration, FGM, domestic violence, parenting and money matters for 15 years. She is Chair of Mama Health and Poverty Partnership (MHaPP) a partnership of 14 Black women-led organisations.Andy Bell Deputy Chief Executive at the Centre for Mental Health.  He is a member of the Mental Health Policy Group and was chair of the Mental Health Alliance from 2006 to 2008. Andy has researched the implementation of national mental health policies and local mental health needs assessments.Episode Description:The group define social inequalities and explain how they impact on mental health.Andy shares the findings of the Centre for Mental Health’s Commission for Equality in Mental Health reports. Rose gives examples of how this affects Black /African women. For example, how the lack of trust by official bodies, language barriers, parenting issues, economic issues and immigration status combine to impact on these women's mental health. Then due to mental health stigma, there is little recognition of these problems.  The group explores how early life has profound effects on mental health, income and other outcomes. Kate shares an example of bullying statistics from the Born in Bradford study, and discusses why the UK is ranked lower than other Western countries for child wellbeing and how this impacts on inequalities. Rose demonstrates how this plays out in the real world, with rigid systems preventing access to services. Covid has also had an impact – highlighting pre-existing inequalities and amplifying the effect on mental health.The discussion turns to solutions. At the national level, the need for substantial policy changes and a move away from seeing mental health as an individual responsibility. At a local level, involving communities in meaningful co-production of interventions. This requires mutual respect and trust, as well as a commitment to accepting other communities and cultures. Finally, each guest shares one thing they would like for people listening to take away:For local authorities to focus on root causes and systemic inequalities that underpin public mental health, as this will fix mental health as well as other health issues.  To own your patch, whatever it might be – ask what else you can do to help.Go out to schools, youth organisations, community groups and spend time listening. Don’t accept that things are immovable.Contact:Host Stu King @Stu_King_HhProfessor Kate Pickett @profkepickettAndy Bell  @CentreforMH, Report on the Commission for Equality in Mental HealthRose Ssali @rose_ssali, @SupportSawn
  1. Social Inequalities – Professor Kate Pickett, Rose Ssali & Andy Bell
  2. Workplace Mental Health – Professor Dame Carol Black, Professor Neil Greenberg, Dr Jane Suter
  3. Social Isolation, Loneliness & Financial Strain – Dr Jen Dykxhoorn, Ed Davie & Caron Walker
  4. Dr Jonathan Campion – Director for Public Mental Health and Consultant Psychiatrist

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