British psychiatrists warn of ‘tsunami’ of mental illness related to Covid-19

epa08421862 A man carries garden goods from a hardware store in London, Britain, 14 May, 2020. As Britain's lockdown eases many Britons are facing the dilemma of wether it is safe to return to work or not. Britain's economy has suffered a two per cent fall, its worst decline since the 2008 financial crash. Countries around the world are taking measures to stem the widespread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus which causes the COVID-19 disease. EPA-EFE/ANDY RAIN

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Psychiatrists are warning of a “tsunami” of mental illness from problems stored up during lockdown. They are particularly concerned that children and older adults are not getting the support they need because of school closures, self-isolation and fear of hospitals, BBC reports.

In a survey, psychiatrists reported rises in emergency cases and a drop in routine appointments. They emphasised that mental-health services were still open for business. “We are already seeing the devastating impact of Covid-19 on mental health, with more people in crisis,” said Prof Wendy Burn, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

A survey of 1,369 psychiatrists between 1-6 May, found 45 per cent had seen a reduction in routine appointment attendance since 23 March, leading to fears that patients were avoiding support until they reach crisis point. In addition nearly half (43 per cent) of psychiatrists had seen an increase in urgent and emergency caseloads where patients are showing the most serious conditions, The Independent reports.

“But we are just as worried about the people who need help now but aren’t getting it. Our fear is that the lockdown is storing up problems which could then lead to a tsunami of referrals.” One psychiatrist said: “In old-age psychiatry our patients appear to have evaporated, I think people are too fearful to seek help.” Another wrote: “Many of our patients have developed mental disorders as a direct result of the coronavirus disruption – eg social isolation, increased stress, running out of meds.”

In a report issued earlier this month, by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the issue of mental wellness amongst youths also came to the fore.

  • Nearly three in five (58%) 18 to 24 year olds disagreed that the government is doing enoughto protect the public’s mental health and wellbeing.
  • Over two in three (70%) 18 to 24 year olds have felt anxious about the future more often than normal (compared with 47% of over 75s).
  • Two in five (38%) 18 to 24 year olds have had good quality sleep less often (compared with 15% of over 75s).
  • 18 to 24 year olds were nearly three times more likely than 65 to 74 year olds to have experienced feeling of loneliness more often than normal (62% compared with 21%).
  • 16% of 18 to 24 year olds have been unable to isolate as much as they would like because of financial concerns (compared with 11% of 55 to 64 year olds).

Alongside these concerning results, the data revealed there have been some positive aspects of the lockdown for young people:

  • The vast majority (85%) of 18 to 24 year olds have connected with people virtually more often.
  • A quarter (25%) of 18 to 24 year olds have volunteered or offered support in their community more often than normal.

The Independent / BBC

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