Mental health in an unequal world
Today is World Mental Health Day 2021. Coming hot on the heels of the Covid-19 pandemic, this year's theme – Mental Health in an Unequal World – could not be more timely. The last 18 months has shone a spotlight on our health inequalities, facilitating frank and open discussions around mental health, and leading to the stark realisation that we are on the cusp of a mental health crisis – not just in the UK, but across the world
Understanding how societal inequalities contribute to mental health is an important and necessary step to protecting our communities. The people struggling the most are those who are already facing considerable challenges – people with long-term health conditions, or facing discrimination, or parenting on their own.
Throughout the pandemic, economic inequality became highly visible as we invited our workplaces, colleagues, and classmates into our homes with the ‘work from home order’ and the necessity for home-schooling – space and access to technology is a luxury that many cannot afford. The pandemic led to widespread job losses in several sectors contributing to economic instability for many families, whilst children missed out on important social interaction and experiences leading to greater feelings of isolation and loneliness. Those already living with long-term health conditions and disabilities, classed as vulnerable, had their mental health impacted significantly, with increased health anxiety and long-term isolation for many.
As we start to return to our ‘normal’ routines, we need to remember to keep our own wellbeing, and the wellbeing of others, at the forefront of our minds. Tackling racism and discrimination, exclusion and poverty is essential. If these issues continue to be tolerated, then health inequality across the UK will inevitably continue to rise.
Making a difference
- Raising awareness and talking openly about our mental health helps to normalise our struggles and takes away the perceived stigma associated with it.
- Working together to understand not only how to support our friends, family, and colleagues, but also how to build resilience and healthy habits within ourselves
- Working together to create a more equal and just society.
At the University of Lincoln, we are proud to say we have over 100 Mental Health First Aiders to support our staff and students. Their role is to recognise mental ill health and help those impacted to find the support they need to stay well. They strive to achieve our ambitions of creating an inclusive culture (our One Community), whereby attitudes and behaviours to mental ill health are not stigmatised, and staff feel able to talk about their mental health without fear of repercussion or judgement – to ultimately create an environment where everyone has the skills to look after their own and others’ wellbeing.
We have recently joined the new University Mental Health Charter demonstrating commitment to improving support for staff and student mental health in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.