CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

‘Mental health crisis’ fears after virus lockdown

NHS chiefs warn of surge in demand for support as more suffer anxiety and depression, and Covid-19 survivors experience PTSD

29 May, 2020 — By Tom Foot

NHS chiefs are predicting a “public mental health crisis” will follow further lifting of the lockdown as the psychological toll of the last two months is revealed.

Managers at the twin-borough Camden and Islington Foundation NHS Trust have warned of a “surge in demand”, particularly in cases of anxiety and depression.

In a new report detailing a list of serious challenges facing the service, they said they have already noticed a rise in “complex grief reactions to the pandemic”, including the “new phenomenon” of “double bereavement” – for example when children suffer twice through break-up of the family unit and death of a relative.

Patients, meanwhile, who had been treated for severe reactions to the coronavirus in hospital intensive care units are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the report says, leading to an increase in referrals.

Personality disorders could also rise due to trauma of the Covid-19 experience.

“Evidence from China leads us to expect a heightened public mental health crisis,” the report said. “We expect an upswing of depression and anxiety for both new and existing service users.

“Anecdotally, suicide attempts are also rising. There is evidence emerging of increased demand for PTSD, complex grief reactions, relapsing psychosis, depression and anxiety.”

Drug addicts have been suffering “an increase of acute withdrawals” due to lack of hard drugs on the streets.

They have been “turning to synthetic opioids” which can lead to serious mental illness, the report suggests.

“Alcohol use appears to be increasing,” it added.

The elderly, who have most strictly observed lockdown rules, will have “deteriorated due to isolation”, leading to a potential increase in dementia, while NHS staff have experiencing “increased pressure and distress caused by the crisis” and will “require psychological support”.

A  Trust spokeswoman said: “In line with other providers, we are working hard to ensure that we are well-prepared to meet any increase in mental health need among our existing patient population and our wider community.”

• If you are suffering a mental health crisis, you can call 020 3317 6333 or contact your regular mental health team.

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