We’ve written to the Chair of the Public Inquiry into COVID-19 calling for mental health to be urgently added into the inquiry’s remit.

The letter, signed by 23 organisations representing 80,000 therapists, highlights our shared concern that the draft terms of reference of the inquiry neglects to examine the impact and response by the Government to the vast mental health impact of the pandemic.

It says: “Extensive evidence has demonstrated that the mental health costs of COVID-19 are as profound and as long lasting as the physical health costs and these need to be considered comprehensively by the committee in terms of preparedness, response and recovery.”

The letter to Baroness Hallett states that mental health was a missing element of the Government’s strategy through each phase of the response, despite “extensive international evidence of the mental health impacts that health events of this magnitude have on society.”

Reconsider the terms

It adds: “We urge you and members of the inquiry committee to urgently reconsider the terms of the inquiry and ensure that mental health is given the consideration it deserves so that future impacts can be managed and that people are given the appropriative and accessible support they urgently need.”

Alongside our call for mental health to be included as an additional and separate category within the draft terms of reference, we call on the committee to consider a range of critical issues.

These include: why a comprehensive mental health response wasn’t put in place at the outset given the evidence of mental health impacts of pandemics; what provision was made once there was clear evidence of trauma impacts of the pandemic on frontline staff; the mental health impacts of measures that were put in places alongside lockdowns; why mental health does not feature in plans to reduce the NHS backlog.

Shocking omission

Our Head of Policy and Public Affairs Martin Bell said: “It’s a shocking omission that there’s no mention of the mental health impact anywhere within the draft terms of reference. We’re extremely concerned that this means lessons won’t be learnt and we’ll face a similarly poor response to any future pandemics, with mental health deemed an afterthought.

“Our members have played a critical role supporting our most vulnerable people and communities over the past two years. We’ve seen first-hand the mental health impact of the pandemic, and that must be considered as part of this inquiry.”

A YouGov survey of GB adults undertaken on behalf of BACP in February highlighted that 68% of people agree the UK government should invest more in mental health because of the pandemic. Only 14% of people agreed the UK government has done enough to support mental health during the past two years.

The letter was sent to Baroness Hallett as part of the public consultation into the terms of reference of the inquiry, which closed on Thursday, April 7.

Read the full letter to the COVID-19 inquiry and see the list of signatories.

23 organisations signed our letter - and Mind, PPR and Health Assured have also joined our call

23 organisations signed our letter - and Mind, PPR and Health Assured have also joined our call