A mental health charity in the London borough has said Islington is facing a “crisis of social isolation”.
The Stuart Low Trust said the area has “the highest rates of serious mental health problems” in the capital.
Local poverty, dense population and lack of green spaces are cited as some of the reasons for this.
It says the charity has identified gaps in local services and is working to help provide easily accessible support.
Lockdown ‘like solitary confinement’
Speaking anonymously to the BBC, a service user from the trust told how she had depression and anxiety, especially after having to live alone during the pandemic.
She said the lockdown was like being in “solitary prison”, adding, “It felt extremely lonely. I felt extremely anxious.” He also described feeling suicidal.
Through her GP, she was referred to a social canonical link worker Which connected him to the Stuart Low Trust.
She told the BBC that the activities offered gave her the opportunity to meet people with whom she could be “honest” about her mental health condition.
She said that the social opportunity provided by the charity “lifts my spirits”, adding that it was important to be able to put dates in her diary to “have something to look forward to”.
The charity provides access to safe spaces and community activities, focusing on the arts, nature and wellbeing. It is open to people from outside Islington as well as residents.
It said programs were in place over the Christmas period to prevent people from living alone.
Trust CEO Mark Gillham told the BBC he felt there was a “gap in service” when it came to mental health support in Islington and across London.
He said: “To be eligible for an NHS service you often have to meet quite complex criteria.”
Mr Gilham said: “In contrast, the Stuart Low Trust’s view is that we are either a drop-in service, or they just need to fill in a short registration form.”
He said it was especially important to provide people with hours of support, “when you can imagine the people who are isolated, feeling the most isolated”, adding that the charity provided around 1,000 people a year. helped people, 89% of whom reported improvements in mental health and well-being.
NHS figures show,
- One in six (30,000) Islington adults have depression, anxiety or both
- Almost 4,000 people in Islington are living with serious mental illness
However, the increasing demand for the charity’s services has placed the Trust under financial stress due to some of the activities being scaled back,
The charity has told service users that this is a temporary problem, and is hoping to raise funds with the release of a Christmas single, Guiding Star.
said this derived from single This will help in helping those who were isolated.
Speaking about Christmas, Mr Gillham said: “If you’re isolated, it can be one of the most painful times of the year, and you really wish Christmas would go away.
“So one of our goals is to bring people together during this period, so they have somewhere to go.”
The North London Mental Health Partnership, which includes Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust and Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust, said in a statement: “Our core services cover the full range of mental health needs and for some time We have received significant investment over three years, enabling us to provide even more high-quality, inclusive care and support to residents of North Central London, whatever their level of need.
“This is often available by self-referral, including our talking therapy service for example.
“Importantly, our crisis services are available to anyone who needs them, without a GP referral, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.
“These include two crisis homes in Islington, our mental health crisis assessment center and our 24-hour crisis lines on 0800 917 3333.
“Our formal and informal partnerships with the charity and voluntary sector are invaluable; they complement our services and we will continue to work closely with them.”
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