UK warns of ‘second pandemic’ of mental health issues, with 10M Brits reportedly in need of care

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Officials in the government-run National Health Service in the U.K. have reportedly warned that the country could be facing a “second pandemic” in the post-COVID-19 environment in the form of a mental health crisis affecting millions in the country’s population.

According to what healthcare leaders told left-wing The Guardian news outlet, the socialized medicine system in Britain is overwhelmed by those afflicted with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, or other maladies that could potentially lead to suicide and other forms of self-harm.

Additional resources, including the need to recruit more specialists, are required to deal with the backlog of patients who are suffering, the NHS experts insist.

The Guardian article does not mention lockdowns specifically, however.

“The Covid crisis has sparked a dramatic rise in the numbers of people experiencing mental health problems, with 1.6 million waiting for specialized treatment and another 8 million who cannot get on the waiting list but would benefit from support, the heads of the NHS Confederation and the Royal College of Psychiatrists have told the Guardian,” the publication reported.

The U.K. has an estimated total population of 68 million.

Sajid Javid, the top health official in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government, “has acknowledged that national levels of depression have almost doubled since the start of the pandemic.”

Young people are particularly among those who reportedly suffered during COVID. “There has been a 72% increase in children and teenagers referred for urgent support for eating disorders in one year, and a 52% rise in emergency referrals for under-18s to crisis care since the start of the pandemic,” the news outlet asserted.

Royal College of Psychiatrists President Dr. Adrian James emphasized the need for a mental health recovery plan.

“Millions of children, young people and adults are seeking help from mental health services that are overstretched and under-resourced. The situation is critical. The government cannot afford to neglect mental health recovery any longer,” James asserted.

Physicians and researchers on this side of the Atlantic have similarly cautioned about the collateral impact of COVID outside of the virus itself, particularly on children. Continued mask mandates in the classroom have also generated opposition.

A study released about a year ago revealed a purported spike in mental healthcare insurance claims for anxiety, depression, and self-harm among the age 13-18 cohort.

According to Kaiser Family Foundation data also about a year ago, “During the pandemic, about 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, a share that has been largely consistent, up from one in ten adults who reported these symptoms from January to June 2019.”

In addition, “A KFF Health Tracking Poll from July 2020 also found that many adults are reporting specific negative impacts on their mental health and well-being, such as difficulty sleeping…or eating…increases in alcohol consumption or substance use…and worsening chronic conditions…due to worry and stress over the coronavirus.”

As part of his Living with COVID plan, Prime Minister Johnson announced in parliament on Monday that as of Thursday of this week, among other restrictions being lifted, self-isolation is no longer required following a positive coronavirus test. Contract tracing is also coming to an end.

“Restrictions pose a heavy toll on our economy, our society, our mental wellbeing, and the life chances of our children. And we do not need to pay that cost any longer. We have a population that is protected by the biggest vaccination program in our history,” Johnson said, in part.

“Until 1 April, we will still advise people who test positive to stay at home. But after that, we will encourage people with Covid-19 symptoms to exercise personal responsibility, just as we encourage people who may have flu to be considerate to others,” Johnson also recommended.

Johnson noted that about 71 percent of adults in the U.K. have received a third COVID jab. Health Secretary Javid said today that the government will offer a fourth shot to those 75 and older as well as to vulnerable persons in any age group.

British police are currently investigating Johnson and others for allegedly hosting or attending parties at the prime minister’s official Downing Street London residence (equivalent to the U.S. White House) while the U.K.’s strict lockdown and social distancing rules were in effect.

Johnson, the leader of the Conservative Party and former mayor of London, has refused to say whether he will step down if authorities implicate him in the scandal.


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