People in mental health crisis at highest recorded levels, says charity

Mind warns of 'second pandemic' as it reveals that more people have experienced a mental health crisis during the coronavirus pandemic than ever previously recorded.

‘Urgent’ and ‘emergency’ referrals of people in crisis have drastically risen since the beginning of the first national lockdown, with figures for June and July higher than ever previously recorded, according to data from NHS Digital.

The data analysed covers up to July 2020 and are the most recent figures published. A total of 2,276 more urgent and emergency referrals were made in July alone this year compared to the same month last year.

Mind has also revealed that calls to its helpline have dramatically increased, sometimes twice the usual volume on several days this month.

The charity is warning that urgent investment must be made to support community services into the winter and stem the flow of people into hospitals and mental health beds protected for those that need them.

A mental health crisis can include self-harming, psychosis, attempting suicide or a manic episode.

Life-threatening crises often require face to face support, though Mind says this has plummeted in recent months.

The figures come as mental health bed occupancy rates return to pre-pandemic levels, following an initial rush to discharge patients, and as wards try to keep patients safe from coronavirus by reducing bed spaces by 30 per cent.

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said: “This is a critical moment for the Government to act to prevent a second, mental health, pandemic.

“It has to invest in mental health services in the community right now and give those most at risk the option of face to face support if they need it, even in areas with the strictest lockdown restrictions.”

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