Mental Health Suffering Due To Handling of Lockdown

Cllr Gary Malcolm says government has created ticking time bomb

Cllr Gary Malcolm

I have phoned a couple of friends recently and some have expressed that their mental health is suffering due to the lockdowns including Tier 4 restrictions. They referred to the Samaritans showing that they needed help urgently. I offered support but this might not be enough.

I have seen that as each lockdown takes place, they are less successful than the previous lockdowns or conditions set by the government.

Given that the most recent restrictions were announced just as many in Chiswick were due to leave London to celebrate Christmas with relatives, they have not seen for many, many months, it has created a huge amount of anger.

Many of those who needed a type of release, from the seemingly continual types of lockdowns, around Christmas Day are people with mental health conditions and mental health needs. The prolonged failure of the Tory government has led to not just the many thousands of additional deaths from Covid that could have been avoided from an earlier lockdown, but also from indirect deaths due to those not seeking medical health for possible cancers or from suicide.

My partner suffers from bipolar disorder which is a mental illness marked by shifts in mood. Symptoms can include an extremely elevated mood called mania and long episodes of depression.

Sufferers of mental health illnesses like my partner are more at risk of suicides given that there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel. Many feel trapped. It is hard for me to be positive about things at the moment because we seem to go from one coronavirus mess-up to another. Whether that be the failed test and trace system or lack of testing for many key workers.

We have seen many people breaking the rules and when I have reported them to the police it appears that they are not being contacted or fined. There are not enough police often to enforce people who are partying or gathering in large groups. Sometimes, all that took place was that groups were dispersed sending the wrong signal to all involved. Ealing Council has not been given enough support or powers to take enforcement actions.

Some of the services that mental health suffers need, they cannot access due to coronavirus including face to face meetings. Sometimes only services over the phone are offered but this is not suitable for many. I can see the ticking time bomb that is being triggered by many poor decisions taken - or avoided - by the Prime Minister. Also, those advising ministers are not those who understand mental health issues so decisions being taken are not helping those with mental health needs.

We should be treating mental health as important as physical health issues are. To do this we need urgent action from the government.

Without it we are walking into a totalitarian state - where our freedoms and civil liberties will be eroded again and again. The government has been very, very slow at setting up processes so that people can see their parents and relatives in care homes safely.

We obviously need to ensure we do not mix with lots of other people, but we all need a chance to meet others in a socially distanced manner to help our mental health. Those who feel happy now may develop mental health conditions in the near future because of covid.

The mental health time bomb is ticking. If you need help for yourself or a friend, please do call the Samaritans on 116 123.

Southfield Liberal Democrat Councillor, Gary Malcolm

December 28, 2020