Experts in the fields of health, academia and charity have warned that the lockdown in the UK is creating a runaway pandemic of anxiety and depression.
Paul Farmer, chief executive of the mental health charity Mind said “It’s no understatement to say that the nation is facing a mental health pandemic.”
The charity has seen a massive increase in visits to its website, with unprecedented volumes of calls to helplines that deal with issues ranging from self harm to suicide.
“It’s clear that our mental health is deteriorating across the board, from mild mental health problems right through to those reaching crisis point and even having to be hospitalised,” Farmer further commented.
Dr Adrian James, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, further warned “We’re in an unprecedented mental health crisis.
Social isolation, loneliness, stress and anxiety, domestic abuse, bereavement, financial difficulties, unemployment and severe Covid-19 infection are all factors that have led to an increase in workload for mental health services.”
“Patients are experiencing more severe symptoms, and psychiatrists are seeing an increase in both emergency and urgent presentations compared to last year,” James noted.
Emma Thomas, CEO of YoungMinds, a parent’s helpline, said “The pandemic is deepening the crisis in young people’s mental health and there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that the impact could be significant and long-term.”
“Young people tell us that they’ve struggled to cope with the changes and loss of coping mechanisms brought on by the pandemic, with many experiencing social isolation, anxiety, and fears around their future,” Thomas noted.
University of Nottingham Professor Ellen Townsend, who has conducted extensive research into self-harm noted “We know that suicide ideation increased in young people in the first UK lockdown. There was a worrying signal that suicides in young people increased during the first lockdown.”
“We know that loneliness, social isolation, mental health issues have soared in young people,” she added.
Child behaviour expert Elizabeth O’Shea also warned that the lockdowns have “created a mental health ticking time bomb.”
Experts previously warned that lockdowns are a “panic measure” and a “monumental mistake on a global scale.”
“I believe the harm lockdown is doing to our education, health care access, and broader aspects of our economy and society will turn out to be at least as great as the harm done by COVID-19,” Infectious diseases expert and University of Edinburgh professor Mark Woolhouse has urged, noting “the cure was worse than the disease.”
Prior to the pandemic, there was already a suicide epidemic. Since the lockdowns, hospitals have reported an explosion in suicides and intentional injury.