The Office of National Statistics (ONS) reported that almost one in five adults were likely to be experiencing some form of depression during the pandemic and almost one in eight developed moderate to severe depressive symptoms.
The ONS also found a marked increase in anxiety at the beginning of lockdown with almost half (49.6%) of people reporting high anxiety.
In light of this, the NHS across the South East are urging people with mental health worries to seek help in a new phase of the NHS’s Help Us Help You campaign.
Although mental health services have been running throughout the pandemic there was a marked dip in referrals despite evidence that coronavirus is making problems more common.
In April 2020 only 57,814 referrals were made compared to 133,191 in April 2019.
The latest figures from July show that referrals are recovering, but are still down by 11% compared to last year.
The new NHS campaign will encourage anyone suffering from anxiety, depression or other issues to come forward for assessment and treatment.
NHS talking therapies, also known as Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT), are a confidential service ran by fully trained experts. Talking therapies, or psychological therapies, are effective and confidential treatments delivered by fully trained and accredited NHS practitioners. They can help with common mental health problems like stress, anxiety and depression.
People can access the service by visiting their GP or referring themselves online:
Olivia Falgayrac-Jones, Mental Health Lead for the South East said:
“The NHS continues to be here to support those struggling with their mental health. We know the impact that COVID and lockdown can have on people’s wellbeing and it has never been more important to seek help.
“People might feel nervous about burdening the NHS or getting exposed to the virus but remember we are here to help. Whether you are a new mum, an older person or struggling with work, please speak to someone. It could be your GP, a charity of your choice or you can even self-refer online so we can get you the mental health support you need.”
Some people have experienced mental health issues for the first time during the pandemic and lockdown while others have seen them return.
Common anxiety problems seen include (but are not restricted to) panic attacks, social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive problems, generalised anxiety/worry, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Emerging evidence suggests they are increasing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Not all those people who are feeling more anxious through the pandemic will go on to need professional support, but for those that do the NHS is here to help with talking therapies.
The service has been fully running throughout the pandemic with almost 95% of talking therapies delivered remotely from July 2020 through a digital platform or over the phone, allowing people to stay in contact and get support more flexibly and comfortably. Face to face appointments are also still available, and services have implemented new measures to limit infection risks.
Talking therapies are available to all adults in England and patients will receive confidential support tailored to them. For those whose first language is not English, talking therapies can be delivered in their chosen language through multi-lingual therapists or through confidential translators.
The NHS is here to help. To find out more about talking therapies, you can visit the NHS website.