While a vaccine is soon to be rolled out and the end of the pandemic may appear to be in sight the long-term mental health impact of COVID-19 is only just becoming visible. Data collected by Public Health England, Centre for Mental Health and the NHS Mental Health Taskforce reveals an alarming gap in the scale of mental health need and the current provision by the NHS, but a new social enterprise aims to offer a glimmer of hope for those that are suffering from post-pandemic anxiety, depression or PTSD. After the Storm will help people in need find the right support services when they may not know where to turn for advice and what help is available.
The research by the Centre for Mental Health and NHS colleagues reveals up to an additional 10.1 million adults and a further 1.9 children in the UK will need help from services to tackle mental ill health as a result of the pandemic.
Those in most need of help include people with existing mental health conditions (2.9 million for anxiety and 3.1 million for depression), over 250,000 NHS workers (44,000 for PTSD, 143,000 for high psychological distress and 96,000 for burnout), over 7,000 Intensive Care Unit patients, over 1,200 families, 42,000 bereaved individuals and those who have suffered as a result of depression due to COVID-induced unemployment.
Provision in the world-renowned, but hugely under pressure NHS is scarce. Services were already oversubscribed before COVID hit. The independent Mental Health Taskforce to the NHS in England set an original target that by 2020-21 that the NHS should aim to provide access to evidence-based psychological therapies to 25% of patients in need. Earlier this month the NHS reported that it needed at least 33% more provision for mental health services over the next three years to meet this current target, indicating what an extraordinary challenge this target presents.
Even when taking into account those who access services beyond the NHS, from private practitioners or charities etc, it is estimated that nearly two-thirds of Brits still don’t get access to the mental health services they need. This will leave 8 million UK adults and children who have been subjected to mental ill health by the pandemic who will not receive the treatment that they need. The impact this will have upon their relationships, career and finances may be catastrophic.
The research by the Centre for Mental Health and NHS Colleagues reveals that from the more than 12 million UK adults and children that will need some sort of post-pandemic related mental health support, 4.3 million of those (more than a third) will be individuals who have never needed any mental health support before. This is made up of 1.58 million UK adults who will be struggling for the first time with moderate-severe anxiety and there are a further 2.14 million who will be struggling for the first time with moderate to severe depression. Furthermore, there may be up to 480,000 new cases of child depression and nearly 140,000 new cases of PTSD.
It is expected that more than 3 million Brits seeking help for the first time will have to look outside of the NHS for help and support. Private practitioners or charities offer professional help which can enable them to overcome pandemic-related anxieties and depression.
Recognising their need for help and embarking on the long journey of healing can be daunting for first-time mental health patients. Knowing where to turn for advice, and what help may be available is an intimidating minefield. Nearly a quarter of parents (22%) revealed in August of this year that not knowing what action to take has prevented them from supporting their children’s mental wellbeing.
There is good news, however. Widespread discussion around mental health has started to change public attitudes towards those dealing with depression or anxiety. The global shared experience of the pandemic will undoubtedly shift attitudes further. Within schools, workplaces, communities and government poor mental health are no longer considered a taboo, and people feel more comfortable admitting their concerns and seeking help.
Help is at hand for people that do not know where to turn for help. This week social enterprise After the Storm launched in order to help signpost and support people that may not know where to turn for advice and what help is available. After the Storm aims to become the UK’s most comprehensive and exhaustive resource of support staff, featuring practitioners as diverse as psychologists, hypnotherapists, relationship counsellors, life coaches to nutritionists. Anyone struggling with mental health, addiction, bereavement, housing or financial worries, relationship breakdowns or just those looking to improve their wellbeing, lifestyle or fitness, will be able to research individuals, charities and organisations specifically designed to help them.
A married mother of three, Verity Hart, came up with the idea for After the Storm based upon her own difficult life experiences. Her family has dealt with cancer, bereavement, alcohol addiction and bulimia, and throughout all of these traumatic times, she’s struggled to know where to turn and what information you can trust on the internet. Verity is using an inheritance from her parent’s recent deaths to fund the new business venture.
Verity comments: ‘I had been thinking about starting After the Storm for a number of years, based upon my own challenging experiences. The pandemic fast-tracked everything, as I could see what chaos it was causing to people’s mental health through anxiety, dependencies, relationship breakdowns to name a few. The NHS has done a phenomenal job throughout the crisis, but it cannot carry the full burden alone. There’s a huge resource of specialist charities and respected private practitioners that people can also turn to. I know from my own experience that knowing what help is out there and what information you can trust on the internet can be intimidating. That’s where After the Storm comes in. Our vision is to become the most comprehensive and exhaustive resource of support staff and a community that helps people move beyond their hard times.’
To help the 4.3 million people who will seek specific help for their mental health for the first time After the Storm has produced an ebook guiding people on what support is out there and how best to find the right type of help they need. To read and download the ebook click here.
Verity adds: ‘Our ebook aims to demystify the whole subject and process of seeking help. It’s designed for people that don’t know the difference between a clinical psychologist and a psychotherapist or a dietician and a nutritionist. It’s completely free and we hope this practical guide goes some way of helping people at the start of their difficult journey.’
To register yourself as a service provider, or if you think you may need support in any area of your life, then visit After the Storm.
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