A mental health charity has warned that 20% of the adult population and 15% of all children will suffer from mental health issues as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Centre for Mental Health, the charity behind the new analysis, warned of ‘stark’ mental health outcomes of the coronavirus crisis. It also urged the Government and the NHS to prepare for a high rise in demand for mental health services in the coming months and years.
The charity worked with the NHS to build a model, which forecast how many people may need mental health support as a result of Covid-19. It includes people needing mental health support because of bereavement, those who are traumatised by being treated for the virus, and people who lost their livelihoods as a consequence of the recession.
The report estimated around 8.5 million adults and 1.5 million children in England will need mental health support, the majority of which will be related to depression or anxiety.
Nick O’Shea, the author of the report and the chief economist at the Centre for Mental Health, said: ‘The numbers are stark. The challenge of meeting the mental health needs arising out of the pandemic may be as great as the many difficulties of responding to the virus. It must be taken as seriously.’
About two-thirds of the people who will need support already have existing mental health needs. Some of these people will have had their current services ceased or postponed, while others may have had their services altered, for example, telephone or video calls instead of face-to-face interventions. The remaining third of people, not yet known to mental health services, are those who have covid- generated mental health issues as a result of direct or indirect experiences of the pandemic.
The chief executive for the Centre for Mental Health, Sarah Hughes said, ‘Since the start of the pandemic, we have been monitoring the impact on mental health and the lives of people with mental health difficulties.
‘The extent of the crisis is becoming clearer every day. There is a rising tide of distress that will over time, require effective and compassionate care and support.’
She urged the Government and the NHS to act now. ‘We must not leave the nation’s mental health to chance,’ she stated.