Experts in health, academia and charity have warned the UK lockdown is creating a rampant pandemic of anxiety and depression.
Paul Farmer, Executive Director of the Mental Health Charity Mind said: “It is no understatement to say that the country is facing a mental health pandemic.”
The charity has seen a massive increase in visits to its website, with unprecedented volumes of calls to helplines that deal with issues ranging from self-harm to suicide.
“It is clear that our mental health is deteriorating in all areas – from mild mental health issues to those reaching the point of crisis and even needing to be hospitalized,” Farmer added.
Dr Adrian James, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, further warned: “We are in an unprecedented mental health crisis. Social isolation, loneliness, stress and anxiety, domestic violence, bereavement, financial hardship, unemployment, and severe Covid-19 infection are all factors that have led to an increase in the burden of work of mental health services.
“Patients are experiencing more severe symptoms and psychiatrists are seeing an increase in emergency and urgent cases compared to last year,” noted James.
Emma Thomas, CEO of YoungMinds, a parent helpline, said: “The pandemic is exacerbating the crisis in youth mental health and growing evidence suggests the impact could be significant and long term. “
“Young people tell us that they have struggled to cope with the changes and loss of coping mechanisms brought about by the pandemic, many of them facing social isolation, anxiety and fears about their future, ”noted Thomas.
Professor Ellen Townsend of the University of Nottingham, who has conducted extensive research on self-harm, said: “We know that suicidal ideation increased among young people during the first UK lockdown. There was a worrying signal that youth suicides increased during the first lockdown.
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“We know that loneliness, social isolation and mental health issues have exploded among young people,” she added.
Child behavior expert Elizabeth O’Shea also warned that the lockdowns had “created a time bomb for mental health.”
Experts had previously warned that the lockdowns were a “measure of panic” and a “monumental mistake on a global scale.”
“I believe that blocking the damage to our education, our access to health care, and broader aspects of our economy and society will prove to be at least as bad as the damage caused by COVID-19,” infectious disease specialist and University of Edinburgh urged Professor Mark Woolhouse, noting that “the cure was worse than the disease”.
Before the pandemic, there was already a suicide epidemic. Since the closures, hospitals have reported an explosion of suicides and intentional injuries.
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