Throughout the different stages of the pandemic – national lockdown or local restrictions – a considerable degree of fear, worry and concern has developed, both for the population at large and for professionals who work to support individuals in need of care and support. The COVID-19 pandemic presents various mental health challenges for a wide range of communities across the UK. Evidence has emerged of a specific and serious impact for those with underlying health conditions and for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities. This includes impact on individuals who require care and support services, their families and their carers, and colleagues who work within the sector. Data suggests that disproportionately high numbers death rates from COVID-19 amongst older people, those living in care homes, people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups, people with underlying health conditions, people with learning disabilities. This document takes into consideration all these factors.

Particular challenges have been experienced in statutory Approved Mental Health Practitioner (AMHP) services, where requests for Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA) assessments on people not previously known to services (or not known for many years) have occurred at an increased rate (source, BASW/CSWO report on COVID-19 impact on AMHP Services). Concerns were also expressed in this report, that during the period from March to July 2020 many other mainstream mental health services stopped doing face to face visits, either leaving people to become more unwell or to be referred very quickly to AMHP services for an assessment, which (even where the person may not need that level of intervention) would mean they were seen by experienced mental health professionals.  

This publication highlights some overarching principles and local innovative practices that are being adopted by different local authorities to meet these increasing needs and prevent people entering secondary mental health services unnecessarily, and we hope that by sharing them they can be adopted more widely.