Mental health crisis grips UK

Knowledge
12 Apr 2021

The Royal College of Psychiatry released staggering data on Thursday following a UK-wide analysis of mental health services of the past year, within the pandemic - and is calling for the promised financial investment to reach frontline services immediately.

400,000 children sought help for mental health problems in the past year, with more than 80,000 of them being referred to CYP mental health services. That's an increase in referrals of almost one third for children and young adults in the past year, compared with 2019.

“Our children and young people are bearing the brunt of the mental health crisis caused by the pandemic and are at risk of lifelong mental illness,'

Dr Bernadka Dubicka, chair of the child and adolescent faculty, Royal College of Psychiatrists

Services also saw more than 18% more urgent crisis referrals for young people, including assessments to see if someone needs to be sectioned because they or others are at harm. That is 18,269 children and young people referred for crisis in the past year.

More children than ever before are being treated for eating disorders, whilst there have also been huge increases in the number of people reporting moderate to severe depressive symptoms. The number of people reporting being lonely has reached record levels.

It is not only the number of children experiencing mental health problems which has increased. An additional 2.2 million adults also sought mental health support in the past year, with an all-time high of 159,347 urgent crisis referrals made for adults.

'The extent of the mental health crisis is terrifying, but it will likely get a lot worse before it gets better. Services are at a very real risk of being overrun by the sheer volume of people needing help with their mental illness.'

Dr Adrian James, president, Royal College of Psychiatrists

Whilst the mental health sector is working as hard as possible to provide the much needed support, with 1.68 million more mental health sessions delivered during the pandemic than the year prior, services clearly need more investment.

The Royal College is urgently calling for the additional £500 million in the Government’s mental health recovery plan to land in frontline services as quickly as possible.

This funding is additional to the existing planned investment in mental health services set out in the NHS Long Term Plan - and every bit of financial investment is clearly required to meet this overwhelming need.

Read the RCP's press release here.