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Psychiatrists braced for surge of mental health referrals over lockdown

Psychiatrists are expecting a dramatic rise in the number of people who will need mental health care during and after lockdown.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists, which represents the country’s 18,000 psychiatrists, told Sky News that they are seriously concerned about the lockdown causing people to experience severe mental illnesses and require urgent care. 

They have urged the Government to make sure mental health services are adequately funded for upcoming increase in demand.

The group’s president Dr Adrian James said they have seen an increase in people attending emergency departments because of ‘crisis’ mental health issues. 

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‘We’re also seeing an increase in the numbers of people, but also in the severity of their disorder and this is a very common thing that is being reported up and down the country,’ he said. 

A survey which questioned 389 psychiatrists in June found that 46% had reported a rise in dealing with emergency interventions and a 55% increase in patients requiring emergency interventions. 

‘If you’ve known somebody who’s had a mental illness, you will know the suffering that it causes, but also that if people get treatment, it can be life changing,’ said Dr James. 

Mental health charity the Martin Gallier Project said that the number of people who are struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts has ‘doubled’ from last year. 

Between February and November the charity had to support 1,024 people which is much higher than the 400 who needed similar support between February 2019 to February 2020. 

Likewise police focus and ambulance services have reported an increase in how many incidents they deal with that include a mental health crisis. 

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘We are working with experts from the NHS and public health to assess what help and support people might need to maintain their mental health over the coming months and we will bring forward our winter plan for mental health and wellbeing in due course.’

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