We’re on the brink of a major crisis of mental health, a new report warns.
Around 8.5 million adults and 1.5 million children in England will need mental health support in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, predicts new analysis from the Centre For Mental Health, which consulted experts from NHS England and NHS trusts.
They warn that many will have lost jobs, lost loved ones, or will be dealing with the long-term effects of having Covid-19.
Add in the general rise of issues such as health anxiety and agoraphobia due to Covid-19, and it’s clear to see that we’re heading for trouble.
The reports suggests that while two-thirds of people will already have existing mental illness and may be receiving support, others will need help for the first time, creating an even greater strain on mental health care by the NHS.
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That’s without considering the mental impact of coronavirus on NHS staff, who the report suggests will need treatment for issues such as post-traumatic distress, high psychological distress, and burnout.
The report says: ‘Among people who have not experienced mental ill health prior to the pandemic, demand for services is forecast at 1.33 million people for moderate-severe anxiety and 1.82 million for moderate to severe depression.’
From the total number of people needing support, researchers estimate more than 230,000 NHS workers may need treatment, including for post-traumatic distress (36,996), high psychological distress (120,372) and burnout (81,499).
Among patients recovering from severe Covid-19, an estimated 630 will need mental health support for anxiety, 454 for depression and 354 for PTSD, according to the report.
Meanwhile, 36,000 people who lost loved ones will need treatment, with depression being the most common condition.
At present unemployment levels, which could rise, around 30,000 people who lost their job will need support for major depression.
And of the 1.5 million children estimated to need support, 458,922 will need help for depression and 407,623 for anxiety.
Children who have lost parents to Covid-19 will also require help, plus those who suffered other mental distress during lockdown.
Nick O’Shea, the chief economist at the Centre For Mental Health, who led the research, said: ‘The numbers are stark. Covid-19 is a disaster for every country that has been badly affected, and the consequences for our mental health are just as severe.
‘The challenge of meeting the mental health needs arising out of the pandemic may be as great as the many difficulties of responding to the virus.
‘So it must be taken as seriously. We must prepare now for what lies ahead.’
The team behind the report want to prepare us for the looming crisis ahead and make sure that plans are put in place to identify people who need mental health support and ensure they receive the right care quickly.
‘Unresolved mental health needs can escalate to crisis point without effective early help,’ Nick added.
‘We cannot afford to wait and see or to leave it until after the pandemic has subsided.’
Centre For Mental Health chief executive Sarah Hughes said: ‘We have identified the risks and the unequal impacts of Covid-19 on both mental and physical health
‘The extent of the crisis is becoming clearer every day.
‘There is a rising tide of distress that will over time require effective and compassionate care and support.
‘The Government and the NHS must act now. We must not leave the nation’s mental health to chance.’
Need support? Contact the Samaritans
For emotional support you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.
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