A BLACKBURN-based campaign says it is ready to help people whose mental health struggles may have been worsened by the pandemic situation.

Since the onset of the second lockdown, specialists have warned that social isolation and a climate of fear, while difficult for everyone, is likely to pose even greater challenges for people living with depression, anxiety, or other mental illnesses.

In response SAS Rights, a Blackburn based organisation that works to promote human rights, safeguarding and inclusion, has produced a variety of educational materials including a YouTube ‘video poster’ and is encouraging people wherever they may be who are struggling to reach out.

Councillor Saima Afzal, who founded the organisation, said: “This video poster highlights a range of struggles and social problems that exist not just because of Covid, they were there well before we were hit by this pandemic, but it is even more urgent now finally to deal with them.

“They include mental illness, various forms of abuse, suicide, depression, cancer, dementia, debt and the list doesn’t end there.”

Councillor Afzal has previously warned that the pandemic situation could be particularly dangerous to people afflicted by domestic abuse and believes a similar situation could arise regarding mental health struggles.

These claims are supported by research carried out by the Mental Health Foundation, which found that almost nine out of ten people had experienced stress as a result of the pandemic and that 45 percent of people had been made to feel anxious.

Meanwhile the Mind mental health charity has found that 60 percent of adults and 68 percent of young people have reported that their mental health has worsened during the pandemic.

Councillor Afzal has stressed that it is important people continue to follow the rules but has said that people who are struggling must receive help if they are to be able to do so.

She said: “Yes, yes, we must follow rules, we absolutely must, and the vast majority of us do.

“But please don’t make people choose between struggles, so that if Covid doesn’t kill you, it will be the bullet of poverty, or depression, or another preventable illness that is being neglected, or domestic abuse.

“All of these are also harmful, potentially deadly."

She added: “The UK is a developed nation and ought to be able to look after its most vulnerable, even and especially in a time of crisis.”

Councillor Afzal has appealed to people who are struggling to reach out to her organisation.

She said: “We have heard so many of your stories of struggle, and we will not judge you.

“We will guide and support you to help you find a way to follow the rules and build up your armour, so you can fight the enemies and struggles that you face.

“We are here for you, we will listen, refer you to support agencies, and offer what we can through the support services we have available.”

To find out more, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcZqiv4Z0OA or email wellbeing@sasrights.org.