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Devon mental health crisis looming

Tuesday, June 16th, 2020 12:09pm

By Daniel Clark, local democracy reporter

12,500 people could suffer as result of crisis

More than 40 times the number of people in Devon who have died from coronavirus are likely to have mental health problems as a result of the lockdown, health bosses are expecting.

A board meeting of the Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) on Thursday with hear that the National Centre for Mental Health’s first assessment indicates half a million people are likely to have mental health problems as a result of covid nationally – which equates to 12,500 people in Devon. So far, 198 covid-19 related deaths have been recorded in the county.

A presentation to the meeting will outline that the mental health effects of the coronavirus pandemic might be profound and there are suggestions that suicide rates will rise, although this is not inevitable. It adds: “Mental health consequences are likely to be present for longer and peak later than the actual pandemic, and the pandemic will cause distress and leave many people vulnerable to mental health problems and suicidal behaviour. Those with mental illness might experience worsening symptoms.”

The presentation adds that an economic crisis increases the risk factors for poor mental health, with the effects of recession are likely to continue for many years. The UK economy shrunk by a record 20 per cent in April.

A recession can lead to unemployment, debt and housing, which in turn can increase mental health issues an causes an increase in depression, more suicides and suicidal behaviour, increased domestic violence and child neglect, impact on child mental health and wellbeing and an increase in drug and alcohol dependency.

The increase in poverty and will impact people who are homeless or vulnerably housed, on low incomes and vulnerable groups the most, including children, young people, single-parent families, unemployed people, ethnic minorities, migrants and older people, the report adds.

Since the coronavirus pandemic struck, the National Centre for Mental Health has seen of adults using mental health wellbeing (MHWB) services online report:

53 per cent increased demand for mental health support online
40 per cent rise in sadness and depression
30 per cent increase in levels of loneliness
89 per cent in sleep difficulties
115 per cent rise in pressure linked to a new work culture
For children and young people using online MHWB services, there has been:

34 per cent increased demand for mental health support online
31 per cent increase in levels of loneliness
13 per cent increase in suicidal thoughts
170 per cent rise in sadness and depression
121 per cent in sleep difficulties
49 per cent increase in eating difficulties

The meeting will hear that the Devon CCG has already set up four new urgent mental health hubs and a 24/7 crisis response for public and professionals has been implemented, while for children and young people, all services have been maintained all services with a move to a digital/ telephone offer wherever appropriate.


 

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