The social underpinnings of mental distress in the time of COVID-19 - time for urgent action

Rose, N. et al. (2020) The social underpinnings of mental distress in the time of COVID-19 - time for urgent action. Wellcome Open Research, 5, 166. (doi: 10.12688/wellcomeopenres.16123.1) (PMID:32802967) (PMCID:PMC7411522)

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We argue that predictions of a ‘tsunami’ of mental health problems as a consequence of the pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and the lockdown are overstated; feelings of anxiety and sadness are entirely normal reactions to difficult circumstances, not symptoms of poor mental health. Some people will need specialised mental health support, especially those already leading tough lives; we need immediate reversal of years of underfunding of community mental health services. However, the disproportionate effects of COVID-19 on the most disadvantaged, especially BAME people placed at risk by their social and economic conditions, were entirely predictable. Mental health is best ensured by urgently rebuilding the social and economic supports stripped away over the last decade. Governments must pump funds into local authorities to rebuild community services, peer support, mutual aid and local community and voluntary sector organisations. Health care organisations must tackle racism and discrimination to ensure genuine equal access to universal health care. Government must replace highly conditional benefit systems by something like a universal basic income. All economic and social policies must be subjected to a legally binding mental health audit. This may sound unfeasibly expensive, but the social and economic costs, not to mention the costs in personal and community suffering, though often invisible, are far greater.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was supported Wellcome Trust [207922 and 104845 to SC; 106612 and 209519 to MP; 209534 to NR; 203376 to ARK]. RB also acknowledges support from the Naughton/Clift-Matthews Global Health Fund and Colombia Universidad de la Sabana [PSI-65-2017]. SC also acknowledges support from Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) [ES/S004440/1]; National Institute for Health Research School for Social Care Research (NIHR SSCR) [C969/CM/UBCN-P137]; and NIHR [PR-PRU-0916-22003]. MP also acknowledges support from ESRC [ES/S013873/1] and Medical Research Council (MRC) [MR/S035818/1]. NR acknowledges support to the Centre for Society and Mental Health from the ESRC [ES/S012567/1].
Keywords:BAME, mental distress, benefit system reform, social disadvantage, universal basic income.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Parr, Professor Hester
Creator Roles:
Parr, H.Conceptualization, Writing – original draft, Writing – review and editing
Authors: Rose, N., Manning, N., Bentall, R., Bhui, K., Burgess, R., Carr, S., Cornish, F., Devakumar, D., Dowd, J. B., Ecks, S., Faulkner, A., Ruck Keene, A., Kirkbride, J., Knapp, M., Lovell, A. M., Martin, P., Moncrieff, J., Parr, H., Pickersgill, M., Richardson, G., and Sheard, S.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Journal Name:Wellcome Open Research
ISSN (Online):2398-502X
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 Rose N et al.
First Published:First published in Wellcome Open Research 5: 166
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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