Mental health toll of lockdown laid bare: Figures show services received record 4.3MILLION referrals in 2021 – as Royal College of Psychiatrists blasts pandemic as the ‘biggest hit’ to mental wellbeing in generations
- The pandemic has been blamed for the hike in referrals received last year
- Experts warned warned pressure on the health service is ‘ratcheting up’
- The NHS delivered 1.8m mental health consultations in December 2021 alone
Mental health services received a record 4.3million referrals in 2021 as the pandemic took its toll on our wellbeing, figures show.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists, which analysed NHS data, said England has suffered the ‘biggest hit to its mental health in generations’.
It warned pressure on the health service is ‘ratcheting up’ and called for urgent government action to tackle the ‘crisis that is engulfing the country’.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists, which analysed NHS data, said England has suffered the ‘biggest hit to its mental health in generations’
Failing to have a fully funded plan will leave ‘many thousands’ waiting ‘far too long’ for help, the college added.
The NHS Digital data reveals there were 3.3million referrals to specialist adult mental health services plus 1.03million referrals of under-18s last year.
This is up from a pre-pandemic total of 3.7million in 2019. Some patients may have had multiple referrals for different services.
It marks the first time there have been more than one million mental health referrals for under-18s, in another bleak sign.
The NHS delivered 1.8million mental health consultations in December 2021 alone but there are still 1.4million people waiting for treatment.
The Department for Health said an extra £2.3billion a year is being put into mental health services by 2023/24 on top of £500million to deal with the impact of the pandemic.
It comes after a joint-survey conducted by the children’s mental health charity Place2Be and the National Association of Head Teachers found an increase in emotional and mental issues among pupils since the pandemic.
Of the more than 1,000 teachers and support staff surveyed, ‘almost all’ described seeing a rise in the children experiencing issues.
The pandemic and its multiple lockdowns saw schools closed for months and exams cancelled.
The Government has since promised an extra £79m for improving mental health support in England, which will include 400 support teams by 2023, but the charity Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition has warned this will only cover about a third of England’s pupils.
It is a growing problem identified by the coalition who say the mental health crisis could store up problems for a later date.
Covid survivors are up to 40% more likely to go on to suffer depression and anxiety
Covid survivors are at increased risk of suffering depression, sleep problems and drug misuse, a major US study has found.
A growing body of research has linked beating the virus to health problems months down the line such as fatigue and brain fog.
But now a study of 150,000 people has linked the infection with much more severe mental health problems.
Researchers found Covid survivors were 40 per cent more likely to be depressed or struggle sleeping, and 20 per cent more likely to abuse substances within a year of catching Covid.
They also had a slightly higher risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suicidal thoughts and panic attacks.
And the more severe their infection was, the more likely they were to report a mental health issue, which suggests Covid may be playing a role.
The paper — published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) — was observational and could not establish a cause.
But depression and anxiety are already linked to ‘long Covid’, an umbrella term that covers a range of ailments people experience after an infection.
Evidence is already mounting that Covid damages blood vessels, including ones in the brain, which could explain the lingering symptoms.
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