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Third UK lockdown triggered an 'unprecedented crisis' in mental health issues

Third UK lockdown triggered an 'unprecedented crisis' in mental health issues

The Telegraph & Zanolife • Jan 25, 2021
Mental health helplines in the United Kingdom are experiencing a surge in calls and leading charities are urging Government to offer more support.

The third lockdown triggered an “unprecedented crisis” in mental health issues, amid a surge in calls to mental health helplines in the United Kingdom, with leading charities and psychiatrists urging the British Government to offer more support.

Experts from medical, academic, political and charity sectors have issued a warning over the coronavirus lockdown restrictions sparking a “mental health pandemic” as they called for psychological wellbeing to cease playing “second fiddle to physical health”.

Two former health secretaries have also spoken of their fears over the state of the nation’s mental health. Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, warned that “alongside the ongoing coronavirus pandemic there is a mental health crisis and people are crying out for support”.

Jeremy Hunt MP, chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee, said “there is a danger of medicalising the general malaise and cabin fever felt by many people as a mental health issue”.

However, he added that “there is a real risk that enforced isolation becomes a tipping point leading to an epidemic of severe mental illness".

Their message comes as The Telegraph launches a new campaign, Mental Health Emergency, to highlight the detrimental impact lockdown is having on people's mental health and wellbeing.

The charity, Mind, revealed that after the Prime Minister announced a third national lockdown, its webpage containing information for support during the pandemic received the highest number of page views in a single day since the first lockdown in April 2020.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: “It’s no understatement to say that the nation is facing a ‘mental health pandemic’.”

“It’s clear that our mental health is deteriorating across the board – from mild mental health problems right through to those reaching crisis point and even having to be hospitalised.”

Mr Farmer said extra investment in mental health services as well as further support during another economic recession will be crucial to supporting those in need.

“It is also vital the Government prioritises protecting those disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, specifically people from black Asian and minority ethnic communities, children and young people,” he added.

Emma Thomas, chief executive of YoungMinds, said that her charity’s Parents Helpline is receiving daily calls about anxiety, depression, self-harm and about young people who are uncertain or angry.

“Many young people we work with are deeply anxious about the pandemic itself and spreading the virus, and some are also feeling lonely, isolated, or struggling to cope without their usual routines,” she said. “Many are also worried about the long-term impact, especially on their education and ability to find a job.”

In August, the Office for National Statistics published data revealing that around one in five adults in Britain experienced either moderate or severe depressive symptoms in June 2020, almost double the level recorded before the pandemic.

Meanwhile, referrals to mental health services have massively increased. A report in August by the NHS Confederation stated: “Some providers are predicting a 20 per cent increase across all of their mental health services, while also facing a 10-30 per cent reduction in how many patients they can care for at once because of the required infection control and social-distancing measures.”

For more details, please contact [email protected]