NHS warned to prepare for Covid-19 mental health crisis

Up to 10 million people across England could require mental health support as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, a major study has revealed.

The Centre for Mental Health, who published the research, said the Government and NHS must now prepare to meet the increased demand for public health services.

The study, entitled Covid-19 and the nation’s mental health, uses a specialist forecast modelling toolkit devised for local areas to calculate additional demand for mental health services resulting from Covid-19.

It found that approximately 8.5 million adults (20 per cent) and 1.5 million children (15 per cent) in England may require professional support for depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders and other mental health difficulties “in the coming months and years” ahead.

However, with just two in three people with an existing mental health disorder seeking specialist treatment, demand could massively outweigh the supply of services available.

Commenting on the findings, Centre for Mental Health chief economist Nick O’Shea 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. That means putting in place plans 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. We cannot afford to wait and see or to leave it until after the pandemic has subsided.”

The latest figures suggest that around one in four people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year, with the most common illnesses being anxiety and depression.

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