People of age 16 and over with a diagnosis of Severe Mental Illness in England are eligible to receive Covid-19 vaccination as part of priority group six of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisations (JCVI) prioritisation. People with a mental illness face reduced life expectancy when compared to the general population and we know that some people may require additional support to access their Covid-19 vaccination. Therefore, it is vital that organisations work collectively to ensure people are supported to access vital preventive health care, including the Covid-19 vaccination. Tailored outreach and engagement focused specifically on supporting people to access their vaccinations will be vital over the coming weeks to ensure equitable access to the vaccination.
NHS England and Improvement has made £12 million available nationally for all Integrated Care Systems to deliver tailored outreach and engagement for people with severe mental illness to increase access to physical health-checks and to ensure uptake of flu and Covid-19 vaccinations in every area.
Examples of what this outreach could look like are:
- Proactive contact via telephone or text message, based on the individual’s preference, or in-person visits to people who may struggle to access the vaccine independently.
- Offer 1-2-1 conversations to address fears and concerns of patients or carers.
- Offering peer support to attend appointments.
- Sharing further information about the vaccine to support greater understanding of its benefits.
Some STPs/ICSs are already working with voluntary and community sector partners to deliver this outreach. Examples include:
- Somerset has commissioned peer support workers via the Open Mental Health initiative to provide peer support.
- Derby and Derbyshire CCG has commissioned Rethink Mental Illness to provide support and outreach to people to promote vaccinations and health checks.
- Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership has commissioned voluntary sector organisations to employ community engagement workers to work closely with older adults and with racialised communities.
There is a suite of resources available on the NHS Futures Equally Well support page, including promotional videos and communication toolkits.
Further resources are available online:
- A guide for people with severe mental illness and their carers on what to expect from the Covid-19 Vaccine https://equallywell.co.uk/resources/a-guide-for-people-with-severe-mental-illness-and-their-carers-on-what-to-expect-from-the-covid-19-vaccination-programme/
- Top tips for engaging people in health services https://equallywell.co.uk/resources/top-tips-for-engaging-people-in-health-services/
- Re-think mental illness a guide to the covid-19 vaccination: https://www.rethink.org/advice-and-information/covid-19-support/
- Blog from Dr Nikki Kanani and Claire Murdoch on the Covid-19 vaccination for people with severe mental illness: https://www.england.nhs.uk/blog/if-you-have-severe-mental-illness-the-time-to-get-your-covid-19-vaccination-is-now/