The role of professional therapists is now more important than ever, as the nation struggles to come to terms with the mental health impact of changing work and family circumstances, financial insecurity, isolation, bereavement, societal breakdown and prolonged uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Many counsellors and psychotherapists are playing a vital role on the frontline of this epidemic, supporting vulnerable people, sometimes on a voluntary basis, including medical staff and other key workers who are struggling with their own mental health.
However, many providers, private practitioners and charities have also seen funding cuts and sessions drop as social isolating measures have come into force, reducing their ability to provide support. As the crisis grows, the need for urgent therapeutic support will further increase and we wish to offer our full support to Government to ensure this need is met.
We are urging the four Governments of the UK to consider the following urgent proposals, designed to support their wider aims in steering the nation through these most difficult challenges.
1. Work with us to develop a clear action plan to deliver a comprehensive mental health response to the Covid-19 crisis
Appropriate resource must be earmarked for counselling and psychotherapy, particularly to provide therapeutic support for bereavement, to those who have experienced domestic abuse, to vulnerable children and older people, to support relationships and to those in financial difficulties. This should be informed by evidence to ensure resource can be targeted at those communities and people most affected by the disease, especially for BME communities, families in deprived areas and frontline workers who have no access to mental health support through their employer.
2. Tackle labour market barriers
Many counsellors and psychotherapists are self-employed and can only work to support others if they themselves are supported. We urge the government to maintain provision of support for self-employed people for as long as there are some social distancing guidelines in force, and we call on the government to provide stronger support for the newly self-employed. We would also welcome the establishment of a business transformation grant to help ease the financial burden of moving from face-to-face to online working, and to ensure continuity of support, especially for vulnerable people.
3. Signposting the public to the very best mental health support
We are keen to partner with Government and others in the mental health sector on a high-profile campaign to ensure that key workers and members of the public are supported to access qualified therapists. Making it as easy as possible for people to easily find the support they need in one place. This must be appropriately targeted to support those communities and people with the greatest need.