On 2nd July Baroness Barker asked Her Majesty’s Government “what steps they are taking to ensure that mental health services are available in (1) acute, and (2) community, care settings (a) during, and (b) after, the COVID-19 pandemic.” The Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop of Coventry, asked a follow up question focusing on the role of faith communities in supporting those with poor mental health due to Covid-19.
The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, at least one of the churches in my diocese recently set up a mental well-being centre, providing support groups, a helpline and signposting to professional services. Has the Minister considered inviting churches and other faith communities, with their knowledge of, trust within and connections to the local community, including networks of young people, to participate in the response to the mental health needs caused by Covid-19?
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On 1st July Lord Bradley asked Her Majesty’s Government “what action they are taking to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health”. The Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, Bishop of London, asked a follow up question focusing on mental health care for care workers.
The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, the Government are providing NHS staff with free access to online therapy and group counselling sessions, among other things, which is much needed and very welcome. Can the Minister say whether the same quality of care, recognition and access to mental health support is being given to parts of the social care sector such as nursing homes, care homes and home care workers, who have faced similar traumatic experiences to those of NHS staff?
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On 2nd June 2020 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received a written answer to a question on mental health and gambling-related harm.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: HL4536 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Royal Society for Public Health Problem gambling and suicidality in England: secondary analysis of a representative cross-sectional survey, published on 12 May; and what regulatory measures they have changed as a result of evidence linking gambling-related harm and suicide.
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On 21st May 2020 Baroness Browning asked the Government “what steps they are taking to update the guidance given to hospitals about ensuring the safety of patients who do not have Covid-19 who require life-saving emergency treatment.” The Bishop of London, Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of London: The report recently published by the Institute for Public Policy Research, Care Fit for Carers, found that half our healthcare workers have said that their mental health has deteriorated since the Covid-19 crisis began. What supplementary provision is being put in place to deal with the mental health needs of NHS staff?
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On 18th May 2020 the Bishop of Newcastle, Rt Revd Christine Hardman, received a written answer to a question on mental health support for the social care workforce:
The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: HL3834 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans are in place to provide mental health support for the social care workforce (1) during, and (2) after, the COVID-19 pandemic.
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On 12th May the Government made a statement on their strategy for tackling COVID-19. The Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, asked a follow up question, focusing on recognising the importance of spiritual, social and mental well-being.
Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, language matters. Loose language and sloppy images hinder, rather than help. We need to continue to suppress the coronavirus—learn to coexist with it—as eradication is a long way off. Does the Leader agree that any recovery road map must recognise and speak of the importance of spiritual, social and mental well-being, as much as physical and economic health? Will she guarantee that this will be the case as phases 2 and 3 are developed?
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On 12th March 2020 the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Tyler of Enfield, “that this House takes note of the case for Her Majesty’s Government to use wellbeing as a key indicator of national performance when setting budgets, deciding policy priorities and reviewing the effectiveness of policy goals.” The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, I begin by humbly making two recommendations of ways in which your Lordships might profitably spend their time.
The first is to visit Portsmouth’s historic dockyard, where the nations historic naval hardware is on display. It is the stuff of national myth: from the “Mary Rose” to HMS “Victory” to HMS “Warrior”. Beyond them, visitors can see one or sometimes both of the Royal Navy’s latest, hugely powerful expressions of British sea power: the great aircraft carriers HMS “Queen Elizabeth” and “Prince of Wales”. These great ships, old and new, represent projections of hard power, but what often speaks more powerfully to those visiting the dockyard is the soft side to life on board: the story, how people lived their lives, their feelings, aspirations, hopes and fears—their well-being.
It seems to me that this exemplifies the challenge faced by policymakers and any assessment of how well, and if, a policy has worked: whether it has produced the desired outcome. Crunching the numbers is one way, but what policy looks and feels like in Whitehall and Westminster can be very different from the feelings and experience of those it directly affects. Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth call for measurement of children’s well-being on national level”
On 22nd October 2019 Parliament continued to debate the Queen’s Speech, including scrutiny of measures relating to Health and Social Care. The Bishop of London, Rt Revd Sarah Mullally (and formerly Chief Nursing Officer for England), contributed to the debate:
Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, many noble Lords will know that I have a background in health, and I continue to be a great supporter of the National Health Service, so they will not be surprised when I address my comments to health and social care. In doing so, I recognise the contribution of the noble Baroness, Lady Emerton, to nursing and to this House.
I thank the Government for their work to support and strengthen the National Health Service, its workforce and its resources. However, increased investment and reform does not guarantee getting to the root of the problem. Our health and social care issue is what you might call a “village problem”. Our flourishing, mentally, physically and emotionally, occurs best in community. More than that, as Sir Michael Marmot’s research from the Institute of Health Equity indicated, our economic, social and emotional circumstances all play a part in our health and well-being.
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On 17th October 2019 Lord Watson of Invergowrie asked Her Majesty’s Government “what steps they will take further to the recent survey of local authorities in England which found that since 2014 approximately £400 million has been diverted from mainstream education budgets in order to pay for special needs education.” The Bishop of Coventry, Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, several heads in Coventry and Warwickshire have told me about the heavy demands on their energies and budgets from, to quote one primary head, children who are not on the SEN register but face horrific circumstances at home and so need extra help; for example, families who are homeless through domestic violence and children whose mental health is so poor—these are nine year-olds—that they threaten suicide. Does the Minister recognise the pressures on schools in mainstream education from children who do not meet the thresholds of special needs but who nevertheless have severe needs and require acute support? Is he confident that there is sufficient funding for them?
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On 22nd July 2019 Baroness Bull asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the impact of weight- and shape-related bullying, criticism and teasing on long-term mental health”. The Bishop of Ely, Rt Revd Stephen Conway, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Ely: My Lords, the Children’s Society has done quite a bit of research into the profile of those involved in bullying. Many have had very unhappy lives. Does the Minister agree that it would be a good idea, in policy formation, if we spent more time talking to the children themselves and getting their case put more fully before us? The Children’s Society advocates that the Government systematically measure children’s well-being and use this to inform policy-making. Does the Minister accept the potential merits of measuring children’s well-being?
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