Summary of report content
Healthwatch Harrow wanted to share what Harrow residents were telling them about their mental wellbeing and how the pandemic has affected them. They undertook a survey to which 147 people responded and held online engagement sessions with local Romanian and Somali groups.
Over two thirds of feedback (70%) is negative in nature. By far, relationships and social networks are the largest topic, accounting for over a third of comments. Access to activities and the living environment are also considered important. Respondents from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic background, those of later working age (45-64) or with mental health conditions are least likely to give positive feedback.
They heard about tense household relationships and frustration at not being able to visit family and friends or to socialise generally. While online platforms and support networks have assisted many people, a significantly larger number comment on loneliness and social isolation. Those with hobbies and interests are better able to cope than those without. The ability to be outdoors, or to exercise is considered ‘essential’ by many. Home working or schooling presents a challenge. Job and financial security is also a key cause of concern.
Service quality and access were key topics. Accessing out of hours services is cited as an issue. People were concerned about the consequences of digital exclusion. People felt that GP services have offered good levels of support on the whole, however, a range of access related issues are reported – including congested phonelines, complicated or the lack of online services, and delays in diagnosis. While some people have been successful in obtaining swift dental treatment, a notably larger number report long waiting times, or inability to secure treatment on the NHS.
The report concludes that there needs to be greater communication of the support that is available and future commissioning of services needs to meet the increasing demand.