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Proposed mental health fund for Basildon borough

09 Sep Proposed mental health fund for Basildon borough

Basildon Council is set to consider creating a £40,000 Basildon Mental Health Fund.

It comes as recent national statistics and local mental health services have shown there could be a greater demand for mental health services in the coming months.

If approved by the Housing and Communities Committee, the fund would be able to ease some of the financial strain on mental health services by giving out single, one-off grants to support existing voluntary and community sector mental health providers operating within the borough.

Leader of Basildon Council, Councillor Gavin Callaghan, said: “We want to make sure that our partners in mental health are better equipped for the expected increase in demand for their services.

“We know that there is a big demand from residents: during lockdown the council and its community partners responded to 8,484 befriending calls and thousands of requests for assistance via the Community Hub.

“Whilst our partners in mental health services from the Community Hub have continued some exemplary work in this area with our residents, the council understands that the COVID-19 crisis has had a significant toll on the resources of these organisations.

“That’s why the proposed grants of up to £5,000 are on the table, to support mental health projects, access to training and professional development, or improve organisational infrastructure.”

The NHS has reported that doctors are seeing a rise in people reporting mental health difficulties, and there are predictions that the recent rise will mean demand outstrips pre-coronavirus access to mental health services.

According to recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) 19.2% of adults were estimated to be experiencing feelings of depression in June 2020, compared with 9.7% before the pandemic (July 2019 to March 2020). Eighty-five per cent of those experiencing some form of depression felt their wellbeing was being affected by feelings of stress or anxiety.

According to the ONS, those most likely to experience some form of depression during the period included people aged 16 to 39 years old; women; those unable to afford an unexpected expense; and people with disabilities.

Prolonged social isolation, risk of contracting the virus and significant financial vulnerability—especially as safety-nets such as the government’s Job Retention Scheme ends—are said to be contributing factors.

Financial backing has been secured for the proposed Fund as follows:

Public health grant £10,000
Countryside Properties £20,000
Mark Noble and partners £10,000
TOTAL £40,000

The next meeting of the Housing and Communities Committee, where a decision about the Fund will be made, will take place at 7:00pm on Tuesday, 15th September 2020.