Mental health ‘Silent cry for help’ across Kingston revealed by new health and care report.

We've seen an unprecedented jump in people seeking information online from Healthwatch Kingston about mental health. Engagement about mental health also leapt with over 1200 people sharing experiences, views, and concerns.
mental health covid

Healthwatch Kingston has published its report on community engagement for 2020/21 which shows incontrovertible evidence of the pandemic’s impact on people’s wellbeing across the borough.  

Healthwatch Kingston is the independent champion for people who use health and social care services in the borough, has recorded a 100% year on year increase in its engagement activities with people. Over 18,000 experiences, views and concerns were shared on a range of issues and over 25,000 were assisted with health and social care advice and information.

The consequences of the deep change in service levels for health and care forced by the pandemic are serious and long term. Healthwatch Kingston is determined to ensure that the views and experiences of the public are at the forefront of decisions taken for the recovery of higher levels of service provision.

“We are grateful for the ingenuity and fortitude shown by our colleagues in health and social care and the voluntary sector who delivered services in such difficult times. And yet is all too apparent from our report how much services had to change in response to the pandemic. I am pleased to say that although patient and public involvement for these changes was virtually impossible during the pandemic, we are now in a much stronger position, and we urge people who avoided seeking advice on potentially serious symptoms to come forward.”
— Dr Liz Meerabeau, Chair, Healthwatch Kingston

Alarmingly, an unprecedented jump in people seeking information through web search direct from Healthwatch Kingston about mental health stands out, leaping 1,500% from 28 in 2019/20 to 426 in 2020/21. Similarly, the charity’s engagement with residents about mental health leapt from 355 people sharing 1155 experiences, views, and concerns in 2019/20 to 1202 people sharing 5243 in 2020/21.

“The Healthwatch Kingston report shows there is the threat of a growing silent mental health epidemic in Kingston. We are really worried about the steep increase in residents seeking mental health information and advice for mental health issues. People appear to feel safer to support themselves online. Perhaps this is because residents are concerned about the continuing stigma associated with mental ill-health, and a concerted effort is needed to increase the support they need.”

Healthwatch Kingston expects the next year to be increasingly demanding as the borough begins to recover from the impact of the pandemic. As a small charity, Healthwatch Kingston relies upon the support of 81 volunteers, and is keen to welcome new volunteers to help meet the challenges ahead. See What can I do as a volunteer?

These challenges include a close examination of residential care, its issues and needs. Social Care remains the charity’s largest single topic of contact from people at 22%, and Healthwatch Kingston will publish its findings in a new report due in August.

The full annual report, ‘Our work with you: Then and now’, 2020/21, is available here.

Healthwatch Kingtson was established under statute by the Government.

  • We are the independent health and social care champion contracted by the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames to involve local people in commissioning, provision and scrutiny of health and social care services.
  • We are also funded by the NHS and other organisations to deliver specific projects.

Healthwatch Kingston is here to make health and care better.

  • We are here to find out what matters to people and help make sure your views shape the support you need, by sharing these views with those who have the power to make change happen.

Healthwatch Kingston is here to help people find the information they need.

  • We help people find the information they need about services in their area. This has been vital during the pandemic with the ever-changing environment and restrictions limiting people’s access to health and social care services.

Healthwatch Kingston is part of the Time to Change Kingston Steering Group,

we work in partnership with Time to Change Kingston Champions, local organisations, and business to help reduce local mental health related stigma.

Find out more about Time to Change Kingston here.

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