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Mental Health referrals at all time high

mental health specialist speaking to a patient holding a clipboard
mental health specialist speaking to a patient holding a clipboard Image credit: cbc.ca

The NHS is struggling to meet the rising demand of mental health referrals since the Covid-19 pandemic which sees the crisis at a record high.

Around 4.3 million people were referred to specialists in 2021 with conditions such as anxiety and depression, just under a quarter [1.025 million] were children or young adults.

Over the past two years there were around 3.8 million referrals.

According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists there were 1.8 million mental health consultations in December 2021.

Hundreds of adults had to travel miles to see a specialist because demand was so high and an estimated 1.4 million are still waiting for treatment.

President Dr Adrian James of the Royal College of Psychiatrists said: "As the pressure on services continues to ratchet up, the silence from government continues to be of grave concern for the college, the wider mental health workforce and, most importantly, our patients.

"The warning of the long tail of mental ill health caused by the pandemic has not been heeded.

"Many thousands of people will be left waiting far too long for the treatment they need unless the government wakes up to the crisis that is engulfing the country.

"Staff are working flat out to give their patients the support they need but the lack of resources and lack of staff mean it's becoming an impossible situation to manage.

"We don't need warm words or empty commitments.

"We need a fully funded plan for mental-health services, backed by a long-term workforce plan, as the country comes to terms with the biggest hit to its mental health in generations."

A government spokesperson said: "We are committed to ensuring everyone is able to access the help and advice they need, which is why we are investing an additional £2.3 billion a year into mental health services by 2023/24, on top of the £500 million we have made available to address the impact of the pandemic.

"We will be launching a national conversation to inform the development of a new long-term mental health plan later this year."

For support and advice on mental health visit the Mind website.