Referrals for mental health more than halve during lockdown in Redbridge
- Credit: PA
The number of people with depression or anxiety referred for therapy more than halved during lockdown in Redbridge, new figures reveal.
Mental health charities say they are concerned people may not be seeking help, despite suffering increased stress and anxiety during the coronavirus crisis.
Last April, NHS statistics show that 335 people were referred to psychological therapies for depression and anxiety in the NHS Redbridge Clinical Commissioning Group area.
But the latest figures show that this April, the number had fallen to just 155 – a drop of 54pc.
There was also a drop in the number of patients who began therapy during the month – 170 compared to 365, a fall of 53pc.
Across England, referrals were down by 57pc, falling from 133,191 to 57,814.
The number of patients starting treatment fell from 95,070 to 62,375, a decrease of 34pc.
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Danielle Hamm, associate director for campaigns and policy at charity Rethink Mental Illness said the figures reflected the “significant disruption” to mental health services during the initial pandemic response.
Research carried out by the charity in April found 79pc of people with pre-existing mental illnesses said their mental health had deteriorated because of the pandemic, while 42pc said this was the case because they were getting less support.
Ms Hamm said: “We’re very concerned to see the number of referrals dropping so rapidly at a time when a significant number of people reported a deterioration in their mental health, combined with an increase in waiting times for those who have sought help.”
The NHS’s official measure of waiting times shows little change during April, as it only looks at the waits those who finished their treatment during the month faced when they were first referred.
But for those patients across England who were waiting for treatment at the end of the month, analysis shows 18pc had been on the waiting list for more than 18 weeks.
That is a huge increase on the 5pc who had been waiting that long in April last year.
The national standard is that no more than 5pc of patients should wait more than 18 weeks.
An NHS spokesman said the pandemic had turned lives upside down, but that therapy has always been available for those who need it.
He added: “Local services continue to adapt to maximise the mental health support available, including online and telephone support, and anybody who thinks they would benefit from psychological treatment can refer themselves directly.”