Our CEO and Founder, Alison Baum OBE, joined a Roundtable Zoom call chaired by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the CEOs of other charities working to support the mental health of people across the UK. Together they discussed the increase in need for mental health support during the COVID-19 pandemic and how this need will continue long after Lockdown has been lifted.

The Rountable was organised shortly after new data showed that over 4 in 5 (85.2%) British people are worried about the effect that coronavirus is having on their life, with over half (53.1%) saying it was affecting their well-being and nearly half (46.9%) reporting high levels of anxiety (1). With many feeling worried, anxious or isolated during these challenging times, Every Mind Matters highlights there are lots of things we can all do to look after our mental well-being and support others, to prevent these concerns from becoming more serious.

Joining Their Royal Highnesses and Alison Baum in the Roundtable discussion were:

Many of the charities reported an increase in the numbers of people of reaching out for information and seeking help for their own mental health, indicating that the importance of good mental health is now becoming a prominent issue in the public consciousness. 

The CEOs discussed the mental health issues that are arising as a result of the pandemic and highlighted that many of the practical issues that people are facing can also be risk factors for mental health. They agreed that the sector must continue to look at ways to work together to ensure that people are equipped to support their family and friends during these difficult times, and to have conversations about their mental health both during and after the pandemic which they anticipate will have vast and complicated long-term consequences for mental health.

Victoria Hornby, CEO of Mental Health Innovations (which runs the Shout 85258 crisis text service), highlighted the importance of continuing to encourage people to seek help for their own mental health throughout the spread of the coronavirus: 

“One of the issues is the overwhelming information about coronavirus and that people may view their mental health struggles as being unimportant in the context of the other things that are going on. I think it’s really important to put out messages saying that we do want to hear from those facing mental health challenges and that they do still deserve and need the support that they would require at any other time.”

Alison Baum discussed the importance of supporting the mental health of families of all ages and life stages. She explained how Best Beginnings' NHS approved Baby Buddy app is supporting pregnant families and new parents during Lockdown. 

Reflecting on the Roundtable, Alison said:

"At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic there was, necessarily, a focus on the physical aspects of the virus, including the ongoing need to physically distance to reduce its spread. In parallel, many of us working to support and promote the mental health of families have been deeply concerned about the impact the virus is having on people's mental health and working tirelessly to support people of all ages and backgrounds.

At Best Beginnings, we believe passionately in the power of collaboration which is why we are proud to have worked with Their Royal Highnesses and the other Heads Together Charity Partners a few years ago to help change the national conversation about mental health. That campaign highlighted that it is #OKtoSay you are not OK and to seek help if you need it.

Now, in one of our country's darkest hours, it is fantastic that once again The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are using their extraordinary convening power to shine a light on the importance of supporting the mental health of the nation."

Following the Roudtable call, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have supported Public Health England’s Every Mind Matters platform, by voicing a new film which signposts to NHS expert tips and advice to help manage our mental well-being during coronavirus, includes a tailored COVID-19 Mind Plan, COVID-19 specific content for individuals and their loved ones, and support for specific mental wellbeing issues such as anxiety, stress, low mood and trouble sleeping. To help get this vital message out there, The Duke and Duchess have narrated a new short film which is set to be broadcast across national TV channels from Monday 20th April.

Voicing the film, The Duke and Duchess said:

All over the country people are staying at home to protect the NHS and save lives. It’s not always easy. We can feel frustrated, miss loved ones or get anxious. So now, more than ever, Every Mind Matters. There are things we can all do to look after our mental well-being at this time. Every Mind Matters can help get you started with your NHS online plan. Showing you simple steps to help deal with stress, boost your mood and feel on top of things. Search Every Mind Matters to get your action plan today. We’re in this together.

If you are pregnant or a new parent and need of emotional support you can find links to remote support offered by more than 70 national and local charities here.

if you are in emotional distress you can access the Baby Buddy Crisis Messenger, 24/7 every day of the year. This clinically supervised service is powered by Shout (run by Mental Health Innovations) and can be accessed from within our free NHS approved Baby Buddy app, or by texting BUDDY to 85258.

Best Beginnings' has launched a Special Covid-19 Appeal to enable us to continue supporting families at this difficult time.

(1) ONS: Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain. 16 April 2020: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/healthandwellbeing/bulle tins/coronavirusandthesocialimpactsongreatbritain/16april2020