England’s health officials have warned of a “second pandemic” of mental illness in millions of people. This is due to the imposition lockdowns that were imposed during the Chinese coronavirus crisis. Nearly 10 million people in England, 1.5 million of them children, will need treatment for mental health issues.
The Guardian was informed by the leaders of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the NHS Confederation, that currently there are 1.6 million people who need to be seen for specialized treatment for their mental health. Another 8 million cannot even get on a waitinglist, despite being considered in need of support.
Moreover, in some English regions, mental health specialists “bouncing back” patients who are at risk of self harm, starvation, or suicide to their General Practitioner (GP) rather than treating them. This raises concerns about the possibility that some people will die from lack of care.
Matthew Taylor, chief executive of NHS Confederation said that although we are moving toward a new phase in which people will have to “live with” coronavirus, a worrying number are still suffering from the virus.
“Projections show that 10 million people in England will require new or additional support for their psychological health within the next three to five year period, which includes 1.5 million children and teens. It is not surprising that health leaders have called this the second pandemic. An emergency of this magnitude requires government attention. It should be treated in the same manner as the backlog in elective care.
Boris Johnson, Prime Minister, is expected to remove all lockdown restrictions Monday under his plan “learn how to live with COVID”. Sunday’s acknowledgement by Johnson that lockdown restrictions have adversely affected mental wellbeing, especially among young people and residents of deprived areas.
There have been concerns for years about the mental health effects of the government’s lockdowns on children. The unprecedented isolation and social control that was placed on them has led to severe mental illness. For example, a February 2013 report found that preteens were committing suicide at twice the rate as six years ago.
Top British universities reported last July that nearly five times as many children had committed suicide than died from the Wuhan virus during the first year after the pandemic.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists announced this month that between April and October last year, a record 409 347 children were referred to NHS specialists for self harm or eating disorders.
According to The Guardian there has been an increase of 52% in emergency referrals for children with mental health problems since the outbreak and a 72% rise in the number of children referred for eating disorders.
The NHS Confederation called for an enormous effort by the government to hire more specialists to meet the increasing demand. Currently, ten percent of the psychiatric consulting jobs are vacant.
Dr Adrian James, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists commented on the crisis. He stated: “We urgently require a fully-funded mental recovery plan, backed up by a long term workforce plan to ensure that everyone with a mental disorder can get the help they need, when they need it.”
“Millions upon millions of people, including young adults and children, are looking for help from mental health services that are under-resourced and over-stretched. This is a critical situation. “The government cannot afford to ignore mental health recovery.”