Chasing the Stigma CEO joins national taskforce

Fri, May 22nd, 2020

The multi-agency taskforce will address the impact of COVID-19 on mental health.

The CEO of a Liverpool-based national mental charity has joined a brand new multi-agency taskforce to address the impact of COVID-19 on the nation’s mental health and wellbeing.

Jake Mills, CEO and founder of Chasing the Stigma has joined the taskforce, which was launched by The Positive Practice in Mental Health (PPiMH) collaborative this week. It will bring together specialists from the emergency services, health, social care and the VCSE sector to positively influence government policy, commissioning and the provision of care across the country.

Chasing the Stigma has warned of the impact that COVID-19 and lockdown will have on the population’s mental health from the start of the crisis. From exacerbating existing conditions to the emergence of new symptoms — spurred on by isolation, a difficult home environment, bereavement and a lack of routine, to name a few — it believes a collaboration like this is urgently needed to tackle the mounting mental health crisis in this country.

Jake Mills, founder and CEO of Chasing the Stigma, the organisation behind the Hub of Hope and Ambassador of Hope training programme, said: “Those suffering from mental health issues in the UK have always had to jump through hoops to access basic, humane care and the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated an already difficult situation.

“Following this lockdown, we will be facing an even larger mental health crisis, with more people than ever reaching out for support after this difficult time. A task force of this nature will bring together people who truly understand the task ahead and, more importantly, know exactly what is needed to guide us through the impending crisis.

“The NHS, UK Government and local policy makers must act fast to mitigate the rising risk and put a workable plan in place to deal with the rising tide to come and I truly hope the expertise of this task force will be taken on board.”

Heather-Tierney Moore OBE, Patron, PPiMH Collaborative, and Chair of the Taskforce said: “Everyone in the country is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The immediate and long-term effects of sustained physical separation from loved ones will be significant for all.

“We also know that the financial, social, emotional and physical challenges many of us are facing will negatively impact our mental wellbeing. We need to ensure that we are doing all we can to support our nation’s mental wellbeing and our mental health providers both within and outside the NHS.”

The taskforce will be supported by an external reference group to ensure multi-disciplinary input and wide geographical representation. Other organisations and networks who have joined the taskforce include, The Centre for Mental Health, The Mental Health Network of the NHS Confederation, The Association of Mental Health Providers, The National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, The Royal College of Psychiatrists, The Royal College of Nursing and The College of Policing.

Norman Lamb, Chair of South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, and Taskforce Member added: “This is an incredibly important initiative. It is clear that there are significant risk factors associated with the COVID-19 crisis which makes it extremely likely that there will be a significant psychological fallout in the months and years ahead. It is critical that we start planning now for how we can best respond to an increasing level of psychological distress and mental ill health.”

Tony Russell, Director, PPiMH collaborative said: “Our members across the country are already reporting an increase in demand for their services. The current situation is particularly challenging for people already living with a serious mental health condition. We need to act now to make sure that we don’t experience a major crisis in our nation’s mental health.

“Our taskforce aims to understand the adverse impact the pandemic is having and will continue to have on the mental wellbeing of different communities. We will identify what can be done to make sure support is available to enable recovery and make recommendations to the Government and NHS England.

“I´d like to thank our friends and colleagues across the country who so enthusiastically agreed to join our Taskforce and External Reference Group. The members of these two groups are extremely talented and I'm confident we will be able to mitigate many of the problems mental health services will be facing”.

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