Coronavirus pandemic 'biggest hit to mental health' since WWII

Coronavirus pandemic is the ‘biggest hit to mental health since World War 2’ and the impact will last for years, top psychiatrist claims

  • Dr Adrian James, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, made the claim
  • He said even when virus is under control, there will be ‘profound’ consequences
  • Mental health charity Mind described the worsening situation as an ’emergency’

Dr Adrian James, the president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, has said even when the virus is under control, there will be ‘profound’ long-term consequences

The Covid-19 pandemic could be the biggest hit to mental health since the Second World War, a leading psychiatrist has warned.

Dr Adrian James, the president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, has said even when the virus is under control, there will be ‘profound’ long-term consequences.

He told the Guardian: ‘It is probably the biggest hit to mental health since the Second World War.

‘It doesn’t stop when the virus is under control and there are few people in hospital. You’ve got to fund the long-term consequences.’

The deaths of loved ones from coronavirus, along with mass unemployment and the social effects of draconian lockdown are well documented.

Mental health charity Mind described the situation by Christmas as a ‘mental health emergency’, adding that ‘2020 has been a year of anxiety and uncertainty and more people need us than ever before’. 

Mental health charity Mind described the situation by Christmas as a ‘mental health emergency’, adding that ‘2020 has been a year of anxiety and uncertainty and more people need us than ever before’

Up to 10million people could need mental health support in the wake of the pandemic, a report warned before Britain’s second wave of coronavirus.

Experts said around 8.5million adults and 1.5million children in England will likely need help to deal with the fallout from coronavirus, including losing loved ones and jobs.

They will mostly need help for depression and anxiety, according to analysis from the Centre for Mental Health, which consulted experts from the NHS.

But others – including NHS workers – could develop conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), more commonly associated with service personnel following armed conflicts.

The charity said in November more people have experienced a mental health crisis during the coronavirus pandemic than ever previously recorded.

There was a 15 per cent increase in urgent referrals of people suffering mental health crises from March until July this year, and 2,276 more urgent referrals made in July 2020 than the same month last year, according to Mind.

Dr James’ comments come as Britain’s Covid crisis continues to swell, with millions more people in England facing Tier Four restrictions to control rapidly growing outbreaks. 

Doctors fear that the NHS could be overwhelmed within days as hospital admissions surge due to the highly infectious Covid strain raging across the country.

The total number of patients in hospital with the virus is likely to exceed the peak from the first wave, with 21,286 coronavirus patients being treated on December 22 – the most recent day data is available for. In comparison, the figure on April 12 was 21,683.

And Dr James’ comments also come after a startling report in October warned up to 10million people – including 1.5million children – could need mental health support in the wake of the pandemic.  

They will mostly need help for depression and anxiety, according to analysis from the Centre for Mental Health, which consulted experts from the NHS. 

But others – including NHS workers – may develop conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), more commonly associated with service personnel following armed conflicts.

Before England was plunged into its second lockdown in November, 42 top experts warned that the blanket intervention would trigger a spike in suicide and self-harm, as well as alcoholism and domestic abuse. 

In an open letter to the Government, the signatories argued the longer the lockdown lasts, the worse this ‘collateral damage’ would be.  

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