On the eve of World Mental Health Day, health and care organisations in north Cumbria are making £180,000 available to support third sector organisations responding to an increase in people struggling to cope.

The Psychological Support Fund will be held by Cumbria Community Foundation.

The considerable impact of Covid-19, and the subsequent lockdown, has been significant on people’s lives - physically, emotionally and economically.

Anxiety, stress and depression are normal reactions to life events such as losing someone, losing your job, or suffering isolation. It isn’t inevitable that everyone needs clinical intervention and timely support may be better delivered by small, local organisations.

Bids for grants of up to £25,000, which demonstrate a collaborative approach, and tackle the following areas will be considered:

  • Impact of anxiety and isolation
  • Bereavement

Peter Rooney, Chief Operating Officer of NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said:

“I’m really proud that we have been able to create this partnership approach of health, care and third sector working with - and for - our community, just ahead of World Mental Health Day.

“We know that this has been an extraordinarily challenging time for our community and many people are struggling. We want to make sure there is help for people when they need it and where possible prevent issues becoming a medicalised problem. 

“Working together is the key to doing the best for our community, supporting population mental wellbeing; promoting positive mental health and psychological resilience in individuals and in local communities. We hope this is a step towards future collaborations.”

Cllr Patricia Bell, Cabinet Member for Health and Care Services for Cumbria County Council, said:

“I’m delighted that the county council is able to commit this funding alongside NHS North Cumbria CCG, particularly on World Mental Health Day.

“We know that the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting people in many ways, including their mental and emotional health and wellbeing. This scheme will support people to get help early, before a problem becomes a crisis, and that is so important.

“There are a range of local organisations with expertise in this area and who know their communities well. I’d really encourage them to make bids to the fund and I look forward to seeing their proposals.”

Andy Beeforth, Chief Executive of Cumbria Community Foundation, said: "We are proud to be working in collaboration with NHS North Cumbria CCG and Cumbria County Council to help tackle health inequalities. Bereavement, isolation, loss of income and fear are triggering mental health conditions or exacerbating existing ones. As we head into winter, we will continue to see vulnerable people isolating for many more months, large rises in local unemployment and a continued impact on physical and mental wellbeing.

"Charities and community groups play a vital role in the day-to-day lives of thousands of people across Cumbria struggling with their mental health – and even more so at times of crisis.

“This extra funding comes at a critical time and will provide additional support for both adults and children affected by the pandemic."

The fund can be accessed by third sector organisations in north Cumbria supporting people with anxiety and isolation and other mental health issues. It is also for organisations supporting those who have been bereaved. Bereavement during the pandemic often involved family and friends being unable to spend time with their loved ones followed by a limited funeral, making the loss especially difficult. Cumbria Community Foundation would welcome a conversation with groups before applying.

Currently there is also support for anyone aged 16 and over facing increased anxiety and other mental health challenges. NHS North Cumbria CCG commissioned Togetherall, an online service offering online peer-peer support, access to an anonymous community and lots of information, as well as courses and resources covering a range of mental health and wellbeing topics.

The service can be accessed online from anywhere, at any time. All people need to do is register with their postcode at: www.togetherall.com/ The online service Kooth is available for young people aged 11-18 in Cumbria https://www.kooth.com/

North Cumbria Health and Care has funded a Health Partnership Officer since April 2018, linking health and care service with the third sector through Cumbria CVS.