The University of Suffolk has held its first ever Impact Challenge Lab looking at improving mental health for the people of Suffolk and beyond.
The two interactive sessions included participation from students, academics, charities, businesses and the public sector to look at the effects of Long-Covid and how those suffering from it experience poorer sleep, leading to an increased risk of poor mental health.
Those attending heard that with the majority of the population contracting Covid over the past few years and with approximately 3% going on to develop Long-Covid, the health system is about to be hit by one of the largest mental health crises it has ever faced.
This challenge lab has been run to tackle this huge societal issue and participants explored what the main challenges are and worked together to generate ideas for solutions to deliver positive impact.
Hannah Pearse, Business Development Manager – Heath and Wellbeing said: “We are thrilled to have held the University of Suffolk’s first challenge lab to explore how we address the serious implications of Long-Covid on the people of Suffolk and beyond.
“We are grateful for the support of so many fantastic businesses and organisations and hope this will see the delivery of some truly impactful projects and the start of many future collaborations.”
Professor Valerie Gladwell, Director of the Institute of Health and Wellbeing at the University of Suffolk added: “I am honestly really excited to be involved with this challenge lab.
“It was great to bring so many different perspectives together who had such enthusiasm and stimulated so many brilliant discussions.
“We have some ideas on how we might work together on some interesting projects and it will be thrilling to see where we go with them all. Watch this space.”
Jon Neal, Chief Executive at mental health charity, Suffolk Mind, said the quality of people’s sleep should be a major public health concern.
“The impact of poor sleep on both our physical and mental health is significant, but often overlooked.
“I think it should be as important as smoking cessation, healthy diets and exercise when it comes to preventing ill health later in life.
“The impact of Long Covid on sleep quality makes it even more pressing.”
He added: “The Challenge Labs bring together people from academia, business, the voluntary sector, local government and NHS – organisations that rarely join up to give focused attention to a particular issue or challenge.
“And the issue they will be tackling couldn’t be more important. I look forward to seeing some creative and interesting ideas being discussed.”
University of Suffolk Press Office