Mental health toll of lockdown is shown as services received a record 4.3M referrals in 2021

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Mental health toll of lockdown laid bare: Figures show services received a record 4.3MILLION referrals in 2021 – as Royal College of Psychiatrists calls pandemic ‘biggest blow’ to the mental well-being for generations

  • The pandemic was blamed for the spike in referrals received last year
  • Experts have warned that pressure on health services is ‘increasing’
  • The NHS provided 1.8 million mental health consultations in December 2021 alone

Mental health services received a record 4.3 million referrals in 2021 as the pandemic wreaked havoc on our wellbeing, figures show.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists, which analyzed the NHS data, said England had suffered “the biggest mental health hit in generations”.

He warned that pressure on health services is “increasing” and called for urgent government action to deal with the “crisis engulfing the country”.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists, which analyzed the NHS data, said England had suffered the “biggest mental health blow in generations”.

Failing to have a fully funded plan, “many thousands” of waits “far too long” for help, the college added.

NHS Digital data reveals there were 3.3 million referrals to specialist adult mental health services and 1.03 million referrals for under-18s last year.

This figure is up from the pre-pandemic total of 3.7 million in 2019. Some patients may have been referred multiple times for different services.

It’s the first time there have been more than a million mental health referrals for under-18s, in another grim sign.

The NHS provided 1.8 million mental health consultations in December 2021 alone, but there are still 1.4 million people waiting for treatment.

The Department of Health said an additional £2.3bn a year would be invested in mental health services by 2023/24, on top of £500m to deal with the impact of the pandemic.

It comes after a joint survey by children’s mental health charity Place2Be and the National Association of School Leaders found an increase in emotional and mental problems among pupils since the pandemic.

Of more than 1,000 teachers and support staff surveyed, “almost all” described an increase in the number of children with problems.

The pandemic and its multiple closures have seen schools closed for months and exams cancelled.

The government has since pledged an extra £79million to improve 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 that this will not would cover only about a third of English pupils.

It’s a growing problem identified by the coalition who say the mental health crisis could store problems for a later date.

Covid survivors are up to 40% more likely to continue to suffer from depression and anxiety

Covid survivors are at increased risk of suffering from depression, sleep problems and substance abuse, a major US study has found.

A growing body of research has linked battling the virus to health issues months later, such as fatigue and brain fog.

But now a study of 150,000 people has linked the infection to much more serious mental health problems.

Researchers found that Covid survivors were 40% more likely to be depressed or struggling to sleep, and 20% 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, the more likely they were to report a mental health problem, suggesting that Covid may be playing a role.

The article – 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 those in the brain, which could explain the lingering symptoms.

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