New mental health ‘card packs’ included in emergency food and medical parcels will be delivered to 96,000 London households for those with limited or no internet access.

The joint initiative, run by Thrive LDN, London Councils and the capital’s boroughs, is designed to support vulnerable people during the COVID-19 crisis.

Card pack leaflets with tips and advice for people on how to look after their wellbeing, as well as contact details for supporting organisations and charities, will reach letterboxes across the capital over the coming days.

They will be delivered by local authorities inside emergency packages distributed from council shielding hubs, which send emergency food and medicines to the capital’s most vulnerable.

The initiative follows the latest national data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), showing that 72% of people aged 70 and over, and 75% of those with an underlying health condition, were worried about the effect that COVID-19 was having on their lives.

Around 2.5 million vulnerable people with underlying health conditions are at the highest risk from COVID-19, and have been told to avoid face-to-face contact and stay at home at all times – otherwise known as ‘shielding’. This has affected London’s older population more than any other age groups.

Nationally, more than 29% of people aged 70 and over say they feel highly anxious, with 15% feeling lonely at least some of the time. They are also one of the groups that find it most difficult to access guidance and information online. Over half of all adult internet non-users (55%) in the UK are over 75 years old – more than 2.9 million people.

The Thrive LDN partnership brings together London’s NHS, public services, the Mayor of London, councils, and charities to a create a fairer and more equal city by promoting better mental health for everyone.

Dr Jacqui Dyer MBE, Mental Health Equalities Advisor for NHS England and Co-Lead of Thrive LDN, said:

“These are incredibly challenging times, and some people will find it harder than others because of their health, where they live and the impact COVID-19 has had on their financial situation.

“We can’t forget or underestimate the emotional distress this whole pandemic has had and will continue to have on communities across London.

“The cards are a small step towards providing some help to Londoners who are not using the internet, but we can all help by following the advice to stay connected, check in on each other and acknowledge that it’s OK not to feel OK.

“These are unprecedented times, but help is available.”

Cllr Ray Puddifoot MBE, Leader of Hillingdon Council and London Councils’ Executive Member for Health & Care, said:

“London boroughs and volunteers are working tirelessly to support their local communities – and mental health is an important part of that. It’s crucial to ensure Londoners receive the information they need to look after their own health and to signpost them to the available support, if they need it.

“People are understandably concerned about the impact of COVID-19 and many are worried about vulnerable members of the community, but I would like to reassure Londoners that we are continuing to deliver all essential council services as usual.

“We continue to work closely with our partners in health, policing, Thrive LDN and other vital services to ensure we can support the maximum number of people as best as possible.”

Eleanor Kelly, Deputy Chair of London’s Strategic Coordination Group, said:

“These are hugely challenging times for Londoners.

“So it’s vitally important that people are aware of the resources available to help them look after their mental health.

“By thinking and talking more about our mental health, we will help each other to get through this crisis.”