Healthwatch Isle of Wight has launched the Mental Health Listening Tour in partnership with Michael Lilley, the Isle of Wight Council’s Mental Health Champion, to reach out to Island communities to hear from people directly about their experiences of the pandemic and its impact on their mental health and wellbeing.
The feedback will be published in a report next Spring which will be shared with key services on the Island, including the Isle of Wight Council, the Isle of Wight NHS Trust and the Island’s Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Partnership.
Healthwatch Isle of Wight manager, Joanna Smith, said the report would celebrate good practice as well as highlight any gaps in services. She said:
“Mental health and wellbeing are important for all people and were chosen by the public as a priority topic for Healthwatch Isle of Wight in our prioritisation survey earlier this year.
“We know the COVID-19 pandemic has affected Islanders in many different ways — social isolation, the stress of enforced quarantines, lack of routine. This, coupled with home schooling and financial pressures, has led to an awareness that mental health and wellbeing were potentially another ‘unseen’ victim of the pandemic.
“We are delighted therefore, to be working closely with the Isle of Wight Council’s mental health champion, Councillor Michael Lilley, to spend time with local people within their local communities speaking to them about their experiences during the pandemic.
“Following our listening tour, we will be feeding back to key services to ensure that the voice of local people is heard and used to improve health outcomes for everyone.”
The tour starts its journey in the West Wight on 18th October at The Annex, behind Christ Church, New Road, Totland. This will be followed by sessions at Ventnor Anxiety Cafe, Salisbury Gardens on 25th October; the West Wight Sports and Community Centre, Freshwater on 2nd November and Carers Isle of Wight, Riverside Centre, Newport on 4th November.
Full details, as well as further dates and venues, will be posted on the Healthwatch Isle of Wight website and Facebook page. To ensure each session remains COVID-secure, people are asked to book in advance by contacting the venues directly or emailing [email protected].
Anyone who would prefer to provide anonymous feedback, or would like to request a visit to another group or area of the Island, should contact Healthwatch Isle of Wight using the contact details above. Further contact details can be found on their website.
Councillor Lilley added:
“After 18 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to have a fresh look at the mental wellbeing of all our residents.
“The key is to get out to every part of the Island and to listen to people from all walks of life and ages to better understand how people are feeling and what mental wellbeing means to them and what support they have or, if not, what they need.
“There are many great support projects across the Island and this is also an opportunity to highlight these and get them the recognition they deserve.”
Simon Bryant, the Island’s director of public health, said:
“As we recover from the pandemic it is so important we understand people’s experiences and the impact this has had on their mental and emotional wellbeing.
“This will help us develop ways to better help people to improve their own mental wellbeing and to ensure people can access the right support at the right time.”
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