Dr Rosena Allin-Khan has warned the government of a “pending mental health crisis” after a new report has shown a significant increase in the number of people suffering from mental health problems.
The intervention from the shadow mental health minister follows a new BMJ Open study in which 64% of participants reported symptoms of depression and 57% reported symptoms of anxiety – a significant increase on previous years.
The report also suggested that the number of people in need of high-intensity psychological support from the NHS had risen, with 31.6% of people reporting moderate to severe depression and 26% moderate to severe anxiety.
Commenting on the BMJ Open study, Labour’s shadow mental health minister said: “Study after study is demonstrating the toll this virus has been having on our country’s mental health.
“With an end to the furlough scheme and families’ futures being ever more uncertain, there is a pending mental health crisis and no proposed action from the government. The government need to take notice and must make mental health provision a priority.”
Participants in the study reported that loneliness and concerns about contracting coronavirus accounted for a large part of the variability in their mental health.
Several mental health charities have previously warned the government that the coronavirus pandemic and consequent lockdown have caused a crisis in mental health across the country.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has claimed he is in “regular contact” with mental health services, but a freedom of information (FOI) request filed by Allin-Khan this month showed this had not been the case during the early lockdown period.
The FOI revealed that the Department of Health and Social Care had only met with NHS mental health trusts and other groups twice during the first three months of lockdown, and Hancock refused to confirm if he had attended either meeting.