This year World Mental Health Day is perhaps more important than it has ever been before. The COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to wreak havoc across the globe, not just on people’s physical health but also on their mental wellbeing. It’s vital that we now redouble our efforts to raise awareness of the importance of good mental health.
Studies show increasing evidence of the strain that COVID-19 is having on our mental health. According to official statistics, 69% of people are worried about the effect that COVID-19 is having on their life.
The most common concerns mentioned were worries about the future (63%) and anxiety (56%). Overall, Britons’ mental wellbeing has dropped by 8.1 percentage points since the beginning of lockdown.
In light of this, I am enormously proud that the CareTech Foundation has been able to support the British Asian Trust and the amazing Mental Health Programme they are running in Pakistan. Improving both clinical and non-clinical mental health services available, as well as promoting greater understanding about the importance of mental health, will have a major long-term impact for people in Pakistan. We need to continue to support and expand programmes like this, now more than ever.
One of the worst affected groups in society are frontline healthcare workers. A British Medical Journal study published in May this year found that up to 50% of frontline healthcare staff suffered from depression, anxiety and insomnia in the early stages of the pandemic. At CareTech, the wellbeing of our frontline colleagues is one of our biggest priorities. I am always so impressed by the dedication and resilience of our care workers, and it’s vital that we do everything we can to support them. CareTech, along with the CareTech Foundation, provides employee assistance and financial advice, so that we can treat the causes of mental health issues, as well as the issues themselves. We know that there is more to do, but we believe that such an approach will be key to tackling the far-reaching effects of poor mental health.
With a 2018 OECD report suggesting that mental illness costs the UK £94 billion per year, tackling mental health issues may be the smartest investment we could make.
Finally just a week before I wrote this blog our dear friend Richard Hawkes, CEO at the British Asian Trust, took on a charity swim challenge in the cold waters of a lake near Heathrow. Richard raised money to support a number of programmes, most especially the Pakistan mental health work. I would just like to take this opportunity to thank him again for his enthusiasm and support for our mental health work.
By Haroon Sheikh,
About the author
Haroon Sheikh is Chief Executive Officer of CareTech Holdings PLC. Haroon is one of the UK’s leading entrepreneurs, philanthropists and community figureheads and one of the founders of CareTech. As Chief Executive Officer, he is actively involved in the day-to-day running of the business and over time has been instrumental in nurturing and supporting the senior management team, bringing together disciplines in care, commerce and property. He has a deep commitment and passion to delivering high-quality care and support to people with complex needs. Haroon has also overseen the expansion of CareTech into the Middle East and North Africa region with investments in outpatient mental health services in the United Arab Emirates.