A key challenge the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted is the resilience of the British people, both in terms of our physical resilience and our mental resilience.
The UK has been one of the worst hit nations in terms of mortality per head of population. One possible reason for that is the relatively poor underlying health of our people, in particular higher levels of obesity. There are also significant concerns regarding the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of the nation, the long-term consequences of which are unknown and difficult to quantify. These two issues are inextricably linked, with poor physical health being one outcome of poor mental health.
Our early life experiences, both in-utero and in the early weeks, months and years, are the most critical to an individual‚’s long-term mental health and resilience. Early life experiences are essential in forming healthy attachments with caregivers and in turn influence our long-term mental health. We need much greater and smarter investment in our early years with a particular focus on helping individuals, organisations and systems understand the critical importance of good attachment in the home and at school.
In addition to protecting us against future traumatic events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, a sustained, coordinated programme aimed at building the resilience of the British people by focusing on early years would deliver multiple economic and social benefits in the long-term, including:
‚- A reduction in demand for NHS services as less people turn to health harming behaviours
‚- Lower demands placed on the criminal justice ‚’ our prisons are full of people with attachment disorders having experienced multiple adverse childhood experiences.
‚- Better educational attainment and a more productive economy
In short, we need to build resilience to create a happier, healthier and more hopeful nation.