Covid-19 to cause 'mental health emergency' says Leeds charity

Covid-19 is set to cause a 'mental health emergency' according to a Leeds charity as a new report reveals the vast scale of  mental health support that will be needed in the pandemic's wake.

Thursday, 1st October 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 1st October 2020, 8:40 am
Photo posed by a model./ Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Around 8.5m adults and 1.5m children in England are likely to need mental health support in the wake of Covid-19, according to a new report from the Centre for Mental Health.

Kate Goldring, business development director of Leeds Mind, spoke to the YEP as part of our ongoing #SpeakYourMind campaign, which aims to tackle the stigma surrounding mental health.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

She said: “The coronavirus pandemic has been a crisis for our physical health but now we are also faced with a mental health emergency.

"Those of us with existing mental health issues have struggled through this period, however we know that many people have experienced poor mental health for the first time too.

"Just over one in five adults, with no previous history of mental health difficulties, now report that their mental health is poor or very poor according to a Mind study.”

The Centre for Mental Health, which works with NHS England and NHS trusts, said people will mostly need help for depression and anxiety, but also for conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The report said some people will have lost jobs, others will have lost loved ones, and some will be dealing with the long-term effects of having Covid-19.

The report said: "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."

Children are 'hidden victims' of Covid19 pandemic: Leeds-based charity's fearsFrom the total number of people needing support, researchers estimate more than 230,000 NHS workers may need treatment, including almost 40,000 for post-traumatic distress, more than 120,000 for high psychological distress and more than 81,000 for burnout.

A similar pattern is likely to emerge among those working in social care settings such as nursing homes, they said.

Nick O'Shea, the chief economist at the Centre for Mental Health who led the research, said: "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."

Sarah Hughes, chief executive of the Centre for Mental Health, said: "Since the start of the pandemic, we have been monitoring the impact on mental health and the lives of people with mental health difficulties.

"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."

Kate Goldtrimg of Leeds Mind said: "Despite some fantastic initiatives taking place in our region to prevent poor mental health and to support those experiencing difficulties, more investment is needed.

"Like many charities, Leeds Mind has seen a huge dip in fundraising that went towards funding additional services, so as well as looking to funders, we are keen to inspire donations in support of our work.

"We are yet to understand the full impact of corona virus on our mental health, but we know that we want to be prepared to offer vital support for the long term mental health of our communities.”

An NSPCC spokesman said: “We know from calls to Childline that young people’s mental health has suffered during the pandemic with more, and often younger, children getting in touch about their emotional wellbeing.

“Sadly, many young people have suffered from difficult or traumatic experiences over the last few months while they have been out of school and largely cut off from vital support networks like teachers.

"We desperately need a comprehensive recovery plan from the Government that prioritises children’s mental health, with support for children in and out of the classroom, if we are to prevent the effects of lockdown holding a generation back.”