Growing mental health problems in Suffolk fuelled by the Covid-19 pandemic are set to be tackled by a new £2.5million project.

Self-isolating, home-schooling, lockdowns and the closure of businesses and workplaces since March 2020 have left people suffering from anxiety and uncertainty, impacting mental health and emotional wellbeing.

At a meeting on Thursday, the Health and Wellbeing Board agreed action was needed to deal with the ‘collective trauma’ the pandemic has created.

The board gave its backing for a steering group of health and public sector leaders to draw up an action plan with funding from the Contain Outbreak Management Fund.

Public Health Suffolk director Stuart Keeble said the pandemic was continuing to have an impact on people’s mental health countywide, and hoped the plan would generate long term change.

He said: “Covid has had a massive impact on wider collective mental health of the people of Suffolk.

“This is about the things in our lives that actually help us to keep mentally well, to keep us in a good place, the things that feed us and to thrive.

“The impact of Covid we hope will lessen, but Covid is still going to be with us and it is about how we adjust and respond to that.

“We need to help maintain and keep – both from a Covid and wellbeing perspective – working on how we improve mental health and the wider mental wellbeing of the population of Suffolk.

“The money is always a focal point but actually there is much we can already do with the levers we have around this.

“The money is a facilitator but it needs to bring long term change, and I am aware bringing in money for a year doesn’t fix things.

“It’s a catalyst about doing the things we need to be doing going forwards around supporting and enabling good mental health.

“It’s an exciting opportunity and broadening that focus so that if we can get upstream from a prevention perspective we can maybe reduce some of the demand that we keep seeing coming through and hitting our services at the moment.”

Dr Ed Garratt from Suffolk’s clinical commissioning groups said it was a great opportunity to catalyse change.