With rates of depression up by 7% now compared to prior to the pandemic, it leaves the pondering questions, why has this occurred, is enough being done to conquer this, and what can you do to support yourself and others?
CW: This article discusses topics of mental illness and suicide which could be distressing to some readers.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO),
This can lead to feelings of hopelessness, and in severe cases suicide.
With over 280 million people in the world suffering, women are among those who most commonly suffer. Most alarmingly though, suicide rates are the fourth highest cause of death for 15–29-year-olds.
While physical health is important, mental health is similarly important. As we are with our own heads from birth until death, it is important that it is a safe space. However, this is not always possible.
The cause for the rise
Despite an increase in mental health needs from the UK nation, the latest data suggests that diagnoses from GPs “fell by almost a quarter”. To add to this, 23% wait for more than three months to access therapists. This reduced access to care, therefore, leads to long-term implications on mental health – further putting pressure on professionals and impending doom for their patients in need.
Following the pandemic, depression rates increased by 7%, in comparison to before the pandemic.
This peak can be linked with a range of causes, this includes (but is not limited to) stress of losing a job, anxiety about money and struggles with health/family/friends.
The National Health Service (NHS) has put out a tremendous effort to maintain essential services throughout the pandemic. All non-urgent elective procedures had to be temporarily postponed, starting on April 15, 2020, when the pandemic first began. This lead to little or no input from professionals to those who need it in regard to mental health, causing a backlog of patients still struggling.
According to the charity Mind, some groups were hit harder than others. More than half (58%) of those who receive benefits told the charity that their mental health was poor. This further evidences that those in precarious economic positions (including women, young, disabled, and vulnerable adults) are at a disadvantage for a positive mental mind, and therefore at risk of depression.
What is being done by authorities?
According to the UK government's 2022 spring discussion ‘Clearing the backlog caused by the pandemic’, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care proposes ways in which this crisis can be conquered.
Over the next 3 years, the UK government will be investing £150 million into NHS mental health services.
£170 million to improve the Start for Life offer available to families, including parent mental health.
By finding more chances for action to promote health and minimise health inequities, the Health Promotion Taskforce will advance a cross-government initiative to improve the country's health.
The NHSE/I People Plan Delivery Board (PPDB) will continue to serve the NHS staff by supporting workforce retention and providing specialised mental health and wellbeing support coordinated through 40 hubs established during the previous year.
The NHS will offer a fair approach for the 20% of the population that is the most underprivileged, as well as the 5 clinical areas of focus listed in "Core20PLUS5" where the biggest impact can be made (maternity, severe mental illness, chronic respiratory disease, cancer and hypertension case-finding).
From supporting local communities to funding specialised mental health ambulances, this positive change is bound to not only support those in desperate need but also reduce the stress on the NHS following the pandemic crush. While this may seem like a keen and optimistic plan, to what extent this is fulfilled will be questioned in the future.
Action plan to support yourself
While waiting for help may seem painful, if un-urgent it is important to take care of yourself too, before matters turn for the worse.
According to the NHS's advice, it is best to:
Have a good night's sleep
Get active, and lead a healthy lifestyle
Focus on yourself (start a new hobby)
Be optimistic, and write a letter to the future you
While this advice Is easier said than done - help is only a call/text away.
If ever in need, here are some useful contact details...
Samaritans (116 123)
SANEline (0300 304 7000)
National Suicide Prevention Helpline UK (0800 698 5652)
SHOUT (Text SHOUT to 85258)