Mental health charity and TAF supporter Mind has found that hundreds of people who have tried to access mental health support during lockdown have been unable to get the help they need. The charity surveyed more than 8,200 people about the toll that the coronavirus is taking on their mental health, and almost a quarter of those who tried to access mental health support in the past fortnight had failed to get any help. They have been facing cancelled appointments, difficulty getting through to their GP or Community Mental Health Team, being turned away by crisis services and issues accessing digital alternatives.
These figures come as global mental health experts warned that governments must take immediate action to increase mental health support, warning of a possible surge in the number of suicides. Evidence shows that when people do not get this support early enough, they are more likely to reach crisis point and need emergency help.
However, the NHS has urged the public to still come forward for help, amid concerns that seriously ill people are avoiding seeking support because of coronavirus. Mind found that almost half of those who didn’t seek help for their mental health were worried their problems weren’t important enough given the wider crisis, with others saying it was unclear whether it was safe or responsible to attend a face to face appointment.
Many are relying on organisations like Mind to get the help they urgently need – with 20% of those who have sought support turning to charities and community groups. Mind’s services have seen unprecedented demand, with more than a million people accessing its online information on coronavirus and mental health, and a surge in the number of people seeking support through its online community since the crisis began.
Responding to the findings, Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said: “As a nation, a vast number of us have seen our mental health deteriorate during the coronavirus crisis. It is therefore deeply concerning that people are struggling to get the help that they urgently need. Evidence shows that when people do not get support early enough, they end up in crisis.
“People with mental health problems have been hit hard by the current situation. We are particularly worried that some people are being discharged too early from hospital, while others have been left languishing on mental health wards, because of the current limited the availability of community support. Being sent home at the wrong time can delay recovery and, at worst, puts people at high risk of suicide.
“A drop in the number of referrals to NHS mental health services, including those for children, is worrying when we know the need is high. It has never been more important that people are encouraged to access mental healthcare that is timely, appropriate and available at the point of need. If not, we are storing up more complex problems for the future.
“We will closely follow the measures the NHS is taking, ensuring that resource is spread appropriately, and strive to support people through our own services as best we can. The coronavirus pandemic is not just a physical health emergency. People with mental health problems must not be forgotten.”
Mind needs more help to support people with mental health problems. If you would like to donate to Mind’s emergency appeal, you can do so here.
If you are struggling with any aspect of the issues raised here, there is a wealth of information, guidance and advice available free of charge to you on the Mind website here.