Suffolk & North East Essex Integrated Care System

The impacts of Covid19 on our wellbeing

Highlights of Healthwatch Suffolk’s Survey seeking feedback on Wellbeing/Lifestyle in East and West Suffolk during the Covid19 Pandemic 2020/21 

The results of this feedback should be considered holistically as all the issues considered in the survey impact on each other e.g. stress and isolation can cause overeating, increased drinking and smoking, lack of sleep, less exercise and motivation, which can lead to loss of confidence and increase mental and physical health and wellbeing problems.

  • 175 people from across Suffolk responded. Gender and age details were not requested
  • The majority of respondents (47%) had not changed their drinking habits but 14% were drinking more than before the pandemic and 21% drinking less.
  • 25% of respondents were eating less healthily than before the pandemic, 60% had not changed and 16% were eating more healthily.
  • 34% were exercising less, 29% exercising more and 36% were exercising as they were before the pandemic
  • 85% of respondents stated changes in smoking habits was ‘not applicable’. 4% said they smoked more than before the pandemic; 9% smoked the same amount and 2% smoked less.
  • 51% said that their sleeping pattern had not changed. 37% said their sleeping pattern was worse and only 12% said that it had improved.
  • Over a half of the respondents (51%) stated that their levels of stress had worsened. Only 13% said that stress levels had improved and 36% stated that their levels of stress and anxiety had remained the same.
  • Nearly a half (46%) of the respondents had experienced an increase in weight and only 18% had lost weight. 36% had retained the weight they had before the pandemic.
  • The numbers saying that they did or did not have a long-term health condition were split almost 50/50.The survey did not ask what condition(s) they had.
  • Of most concern is that nearly half (48%) of respondents said that their health and wellbeing had worsened during the pandemic with 17% saying that it had improved and 35% saying it had stayed the same.
  • The issues impacting on respondents’ health and wellbeing included all those stated in the working from home feedback including: feelings of isolation, work/life balance and missing colleagues/friends and family

October 2021

Suffolk Mind uses an ‘organising idea’ that we all have physical and emotional needs and a set of skills and resources that we’re born with to meet those needs: the Emotional Needs & Resources Model.

We all have 12 emotional needs:

Suffolk Mind Emotional Needs chart

You can find out more about the different emotional needs on the Suffolk Mind website and click here if you would like to complete the audit.

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic Suffolk Mind has continued to collect data on how people’s emotional needs have changed. You can download their latest report here.

The impact of Covid19 on local people and on the community organisations that support them

In 2021 Community 360 and University of Essex published their joint report ‘North East Essex Communities responding to Crisis: COVID 19, social action and our local neighbourhood’. Their research included learning about the impact of the pandemic on people’s wellbeing. The authors reflected:

Looking towards the future

No-one is untouched by the pandemic. The lines between staff, volunteers and service users blur as we try to understand the human impact of the crisis – all will need support as the shape of ‘long COVID’ emerges over the following years. Deterioration in mental health and wellbeing is a particular concern. The return to the so- called ‘new normal’ is clearly not just about re-opening day centres and scheduling in-person appointments, but also about an extended period of mental recovery and reorientation, in which attention to staff and volunteers’ wellbeing is vital. They have often felt tired, frustrated, isolated and abandoned, much like those they support. They are also, rightly, proud of what they have been able to achieve and of the adaptations they made under extreme pressure, some of which will be retained as part of the post-COVID landscape. There is much to be learned, at organisation level and across the region, from these experiences if space can be created for reflection.

You can read the full report here.

Better Together, Public Mental Health in Suffolk

An independent report from the Director of Public Health published in December 2021, focuses on the actions that need to be taken to support and enable collective good mental health and wellbeing in the community, following the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Annual Report is a core part of the Suffolk Joint Strategic Needs Assessment and feeds directly in to the Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy (JHWS). The report’s conclusion reads:

“The Covid-19 pandemic has brought challenges on a scale unseen since the Second World War. Every single person in Suffolk has had their life disrupted to some degree, and while the vaccines are currently doing a good job of protecting the majority of us from serious illness, the longer-term impacts on mental health and emotional wellbeing continue to evolve… those impacts may be as damaging and long-lasting as the physical effects of the virus – but that there are things we can do, as individuals, as families, as groups, as communities and as a county to try and mitigate them and protect and promote good public mental health in Suffolk now and for the future. Ensuring that the Suffolk ‘system’ works collectively to enhance public mental health is key; as is aligned policy and decision-making, and funds with which to implement our plans. All these elements form part of the recommendations of this report.”

Read the Better Together, Public Health in Suffolk report

Suffolk and North East Essex ICS System Learning from Covid19

You can read about our system learning from Covid 19, including our report on learning from the first wave in September 2020, our film by system leaders, and our learning from the Covid19 Vaccine programme on our System Learning webpages: click here to read more.

Last Updated on February 9, 2022

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