Is England Facing a Mental Health Crisis?

The events of the past few years have been difficult for everyone. Many people have struggled with their mental health, and experts warn that England is facing a huge mental health crisis, with millions of people seeking help for conditions such as eating disorders, anxiety, and depression.

Sharp Increase in Mental Ill Health

Record numbers of people received mental health treatment in 2021, and experts predict that more people will seek treatment in 2022. NHS services are struggling to keep up with the number of people seeking help, with those under eighteen particularly affected.

The causes of this crisis have been linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. School closures, uncertainty, and isolation have affected young people and adults alike, and the World Health Organisation reported a global increase of 25% in depression and anxiety.

Around one-third of people stated their mental health had worsened since the pandemic began in March 2020. Young people reported loneliness as a contributing factor and said they were more likely to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as self-harm to manage how they feel.

Grief, financial worries, and anxiety surrounding Covid-19 have also added to the mix, with many people experiencing multiple stressors, exacerbating the possibility of developing a mental health condition.

Covid-19 and PTSD

There has been a significant increase in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to people having Covid-19 or working with those who had it.

Up to 35% of people admitted to the ICU because of Covid-19 have been diagnosed with PTSD due to their experiences. Many people may also struggle with PTSD after the sudden, unexpected loss of a loved one, and frontline workers such as nurses and doctors report higher levels of PTSD than the rest of the population.[1]

Who Is Most Affected?

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has found that children and young adults have been affected most by the pandemic, with 80,226 more children being referred to mental health services between April and December last year, an increase of 28% from 2019. Their research also found that 18,269 needed urgent or emergency care, which is an increase of 18% from 2019.

Women, those with long-term health conditions, and people from ethnic minorities and the LGBTQ+ community have also been impacted disproportionately, facing more challenges in education, work, housing, and relationships. The pandemic may have accelerated the stress and uncertainty in these groups, causing higher rates of anxiety and depression.

Limited Access to Support

Even with the increased number of people needing help, not everyone has been able to access the support they need. Around one in five adults did not ask for help because they did not think their problem was severe enough, and 28% of people who tried could not get the support they needed.[2]

Despite the government providing an additional £2.3bn this year to help expand mental health care, there are still gaps within services, meaning people cannot get the assistance they need. As a result, many are now turning to private healthcare services, unwilling to wait months for treatment on the NHS.

Managing Mental Health

There are several ways to support your mental health, including:

  • Stay active – the brain and the body are connected, and it is essential to look after both. Exercise contributes to both physical and mental well-being, and just thirty minutes of exercise a day can release endorphins – powerful chemicals that can lift your mood. Walking, running, weightlifting, dancing, and yoga are all great forms of exercise that can keep your brain and body healthy.
  • Be connected – social connection is vital for all humans. Reaching out for help offers extra support in a challenging time – it is not a sign of weakness and does not make you a burden. Meeting up for coffee or seeking out an old friend can help improve old and new relationships and build a wider support network.
  • Prioritise sleep – quality sleep is paramount. Even after losing just a few hours, people can become irritable, struggle to concentrate, and have a lower mood. Aim for around seven to nine hours of sleep per night, and practise good sleep hygiene by leaving phones, tablets, and computers out of the bedroom.

Our mental health is incredibly important, and when it suffers or we face adversity, we must get help in the same way we would for a physical health problem.

Seeking Treatment

Even when we do our best to manage our mental health, it may not be enough to alleviate symptoms of mental health conditions. In this instance, seeking professional help is advisable.

Professional treatment can help make a diagnosis and recommend therapeutic approaches to help. Even if you are not sure you are experiencing a specific mental health condition it is worth discussing how you feel with someone.

Contact Addcounsel today to learn more about our bespoke, one-at-a-time treatment approach for mental health conditions. Don’t suffer in silence – our team of expert practitioners are here to help with a fully personalised treatment plan you can access from home or in person.

Sources:

[1] “The Link Between COVID-19 And PTSD – PTSD UK”. Ptsduk.Org, 2022, https://www.ptsduk.org/the-link-between-covid-19-and-ptsd/.

[2] Mind.Org.Uk, 2022, https://www.mind.org.uk/media/8962/the-consequences-of-coronavirus-for-mental-health-final-report.pdf.

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