In light of this, health teams across Berkshire West are urging anyone with mental health worries to seek help for assessment or treatment as part of the NHS’s Help Us Help You campaign. Figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show almost one in five adults were likely to be experiencing some form of depression during the pandemic and almost one in eight developed moderate to severe depressive symptoms. They also highlighted a marked increase in anxiety at the beginning of lockdown with almost half (49.6%) of people reporting high anxiety. And although mental health services have been running throughout the pandemic, there was a marked dip in referrals despite evidence that coronavirus is making problems more common. Figures for the South East show that in April only 57,814 referrals were made compared to 133,191 in April 2019. The latest figures from July show that referrals are recovering, but are still down by 11% compared to last year.
Dr Heather Howells, Mental Health lead for Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Throughout the pandemic the NHS has been here to support people struggling with their mental health and we’re keen to reassure people that they aren’t burdening the NHS. “These figures from the ONS are, sadly, not surprising. The last few months have been a really difficult time for many people who are worried about their health, jobs, children’s schooling, money and many other things. And if you’re already weighed down with mental health issues it can make everything feel completely overwhelming. “I really don’t want people to suffer in silence. Depression, anxiety and other mental health symptoms can affect us all and can be completely isolating and frightening but there is so much help available. So please make contact with someone, be it your GP surgery, a charity specialising in mental health issues or by self-referring on line,” said Dr Howells.
NHS talking therapies are a confidential service run by fully trained experts offering help with problems like stress, anxiety and depression. People can access the service by visiting their GP or referring themselves online or ringing 0300 365 2000.
There is also online support on the NHS mental health and wellbeing link www.nhs.uk and people can also seek help by going online at NHS 111
Young people aged between 11 and 18 can visit KOOTH.com a free, anonymous and confidential online counselling and emotional wellbeing support. And for those over 18 and in urgent need of help, they should ring NHS 111 who will direct them to the right support.