Hafal Coronavirus briefing

In these difficult times we are becoming increasingly aware of a health crisis which is emerging in the shadow of the coronavirus outbreak: a mental health crisis which is threatening the lives of people with a serious mental illness across Wales.

Across the country patients and families are telling us that their services are being reduced at an alarming rate. Our rolling national survey which commenced a few days ago confirms this:

  • 74% of respondents said their mental health been negatively affected by the recent coronavirus outbreak
  • 65% had not been able to access support from their GP in the last two weeks
  • 47% had not been told what is happening with services in their area.

Here’s what people have told us:

“I booked an ’emergency appointment’ (in January) for the middle of March, this was cancelled by telephone, until further notice, three hours before I was due to be there.”

“My review was cancelled. I had a lot I wanted to discuss and don’t know when it will be rescheduled.”

“My partner’s ECT has been cancelled because of this Covid-19. He has become very low and is depressed and suicidal. Spoken to the CMHT but they said it can’t be helped it’s the virus?”

“My CPN has left. I don’t know who my new one is and not heard from anyone.”

Across Wales we are witnessing the disappearance of CMHT support and early discharge from inpatient units – and above all we see no advice to patients on what services remain available during the pandemic crisis.

  • Hafal campaigner Jo Roberts has blogged about her growing concerns for people who are in hospital or subject to the Mental Health Act: read more…
  • Have you had problems accessing services? Take part in our survey and let us know your experience.


What is Hafal doing about this?

Hafal has put in place local and national plans to manage the impact of coronavirus on our services, ensuring vital support is maintained while also keeping everyone as safe as possible. We are also delivering Hafal’s Promise – our pledge of lasting contact and friendship – across Wales, and we have seen a 100% rise in the number people taking us up on our Promise within the last month. Read more about Hafal’s response…

We are also holding the Welsh Government to account. Hafal’s Chair Mair Elliott wrote to the Minister with our concerns earlier this month

You can read the Minister’s response here.

We are disappointed that the Minister has failed to provide the national guidance for services which is needed. Mair, in her subsequent reply, has said: “I do not feel that your response has provided me with what I asked for – both as Chair of Hafal and as a service user. Surely we need leadership from the top which sets minimum standards on key aspects of service delivery.” Read more…

Hafal will continue to press the Welsh Government on this worrying lack of leadership. We urgently need national minimum standards for services during the crisis; and we need to see the local plans on delivering a basic level of mental health services which each Health Board is supposed to have prepared.

  • We are contacting all Assembly Members asking for their support 

We are also concerned for people with a serious mental illness in prisons: the abject failure so far to organise early releases to make prisons safe poses great risk for this vulnerable group. 

  • We urge the UK Government to take urgent action to make prisons safe and protect the most vulnerable prisoners

We believe that all lives are of equal value: protecting people with a serious mental illness from harm is on a par with protecting people from coronavirus. Having a mental illness should not mean someone waives the right to healthcare and the right to life.

  • To keep up-to-date with the latest developments please visit hafal.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
  • And for those with a mental illness, please find some useful advice on our website.