What happens to our mental health during a public health crisis?
As a team of researchers working in public health, we are keen to share our Covid Life project. The aim of Covid Life is to document our individual and collective experience of the coronavirus pandemic, asking the question:
The coronavirus pandemic impacts everyone in some way, and it is certainly a challenge for public mental health. Many UK research groups are exploring the impact of Covid-19 through formal surveys, but we are taking a different approach. Instead of collecting data to be analysed, we hope to get people involved during this difficult time by calling for reflections, thoughts, ideas and experiences. Covid Life is a space for those who wish to explore what #IamPublicMentalHealth means in this time.
Covid Life entries are fragments of lived experience, windows onto our own and others’ lives. The page dedicated to this project on our website www.IamPublicMentalHealth.org acts as a repository of expressions for people to share, read, and reflect.
Covid Life is a peer-led project, which means it is led by a team of people who have lived experiences of various mental health challenges.
We are the Public Involvement team on the public mental health programme of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) School for Public Health Research (SPHR). We have been working together for about a year. Our role is to bring the voice of the public to public mental health research and our aim is to ensure that what is done on the programme is timely, relevant, and meaningful to people's lived experiences of mental health.
Public mental health is about the mental wellbeing of the whole population. Therefore, it's important that public mental health research reflects what matters to everyone in the population – old, young, rich, poor, city dweller, rural resident, LGBTQ+, BAME communities, homeless people, those who are healthy, those who have health issues... We need to look across society and consider individuals, families, communities, and the broader factors that shape and influence public mental health.
The hashtag stands for this: public mental health is about everyone and therefore everyone should have a say in public mental health research. What matters to you? What does #IamPublicMentalHealth mean to you?
Our work and the hashtag does not end at Covid Life – #IamPublicMentalHealth is used throughout our public involvement work on the public mental health programme.
Please do get involved in Covid Life. We welcome submissions from everyone and everywhere. Simply go to our website and follow the steps outlined on the Get Involved page. Entries can include any or a combination of text(s), photograph(s), drawing(s), or music. If you have questions about the project, you can contact Laura at [email protected]
Check out www.IamPublicMentalHealth.org
To read more about the origin of Public Mental Health programme and the experiences that have shaped it, click here.