Pandemic Drives Increase In Antidepressant Use In England
The impact of the pandemic and lockdown restrictions in England has seen the use of antidepressants soar, as well as a rise in calls to mental health helplines, both reaching an all-time high.
This is according to a new investigation by the Guardian, revealing that over six million people in the country received such medication in the three months leading up to September. Not only that, but access to counselling and talking therapies has inevitably fallen because of the coronavirus crisis, as well.
In the six months to the end of August, there were 601,530 referrals made to the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme, 235,000 fewer than there were in 2019 - a drop of 28 per cent.
The investigation also found that hospital attendances across ten mental health, psychology and psychiatric categories dropped by nine per cent in the seven months to the end of September, with first appointments dropping by 26 per cent.
Chair of the British Psychological Society’s division of clinical psychology Dr Esther Cohen-Tovee said how shocked she was to learn of the extent of the fall in referrals for help with mental health at this, a “time of huge anxiety, stress and distress for the whole population”.
“This is even more concerning when there has been a huge increase in the prescription of antidepressants,” she said, adding that more resources are now urgently needed for psychological services and if these are not forthcoming, the impact would be “devastating”, contributing to “the existing and profound direct and indirect impacts of the pandemic itself”.
Vice-chair of the Royal College of GPs Dr Gary Howsam made further comments, saying that the organisation has also seen an increase in the number of people with mental health issues such as anxiety and low moods over the course of the pandemic.
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