The mental health charity Mind has warned of a “second pandemic” of mental ill health, as calls to its helpline have soared and more and more people have been falling into mental health crisis.
Data from the charity has revealed that more people have experienced a mental health crisis during the coronavirus pandemic than ever previously recorded.
Calls to its helpline were at twice the usual volume on several days during November, with as many as 500 people a day at times calling during October, again twice as many as normal.
Urgent investment was needed to support community services into the winter and stem the flow of people into hospitals and for mental health beds to be protected for those that needed them, Mind said.
Citing figures from NHS Digital, Mind argued that urgent and emergency referrals of people in crisis had shot up since the beginning of the first national lockdown, with figures for June and July higher than ever previously recorded.
Overall, there was a 15% increase in these referrals from March until July – the most recent figures published. A total of 2,276 more urgent and emergency referrals were made in July alone this year compared to the same month last year, it added.
Mind chief executive Paul Farmer said: “Far too many people aren’t getting the support they need and are ending up in crisis. This is traumatic for them and adds to the strain on the NHS, which is simply running out of mental health beds. The government has to learn from what went wrong in the first wave of coronavirus and make sure people can access help early on, to protect people’s mental health and the NHS.”