Coronavirus pandemic: ‘Biggest hit to mental health since second world war’, claims psychiatrist

A leading UK psychiatrist has said the coronavirus pandemic could be the "biggest hit to mental health since the Second World War".

Dr James said there will be "profound" long-term consequences as a result of the pandemic's impact on mental health.
Dr James said there will be "profound" long-term consequences as a result of the pandemic's impact on mental health.

Dr Adrian James, the president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists further commented that even when the virus is under control, there will be "profound" long-term consequences which will have to be accounted for.

In an interview, he told the Guardian: "It is probably the biggest hit to mental health since the Second World War.

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"It doesn't stop when the virus is under control and there are few people in hospital. You've got to fund the long-term consequences."

Demand for mental health services dropped at the start of the pandemic as people stayed away from GP surgeries and hospitals, or thought treatment was unavailable.

However, this decline has been followed by a surge in people seeking help.

Data from NHS Digital shows record high numbers of people in contact with mental health services and some hospital trusts report that their mental health wards are at capacity.

“The whole system is clearly under pressure,” added Dr James.

Mental health charity Mind described the situation by Christmas as a "mental health emergency", adding that "2020 has been a year of anxiety and uncertainty and more people need us than ever before".

The charity said in November that more people have experienced a mental health crisis during the coronavirus pandemic than ever previously recorded.

There was a 15% increase in urgent referrals of people suffering mental health crises from March until July this year, and 2,276 more urgent referrals made in July 2020 than the same month last year, according to Mind.

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