Thousands of people in Milton Keynes, Bedfordshire and Luton have been referred to mental health services Bedford News

The Royal College of Psychiatrists says the coronavirus pandemic is the ‘biggest blow’ to England’s mental health in generations and has urged the government to deal with growing referral lists across the country.

Figures from NHS Digital show around 62,805 people in the NHS Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes CCG area were referred for a mental health appointment in the nine months to the end of 2021.

The coronavirus pandemic is the ‘biggest blow’ to England’s mental health in generations

Nationally, 4.3 million people were referred for mental health care last year, up from 3.7 million in 2020 and the highest number since records began.

The number of people in contact with mental health services across the country has also increased.

At the end of last year, 1.35 million people were working with mental health services, up from 1.26 million at the end of 2020.

Around 26,255 people were using mental health services in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes at the end of 2021.

In April 2021, NHS Bedfordshire CCG, NHS Luton CCG and NHS Milton Keynes CCG merged to form NHS Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes CCG, meaning no comparison to previous periods is available.

NHS England says the national increase in mental health referrals has led to a backlog and increased demand for services.

In a recent report, it estimated that 1.4million people eligible for mental health care across England were not yet receiving it, and a further 8million were deemed to benefit from accessing help if barriers preventing people from accessing care were reduced.

Dr Adrian James, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said the government’s silence on the issue ‘continues to be a serious concern’ and called for a fully funded plan to help mental health services cope with the backlog.

“The warning of the long tail of poor mental health caused by the pandemic has gone unheeded,” Dr James said.

“Thousands of people will have to wait far too long for the treatment they need unless the government wakes up to the crisis engulfing the country.”

The Department of Health and Social Care has said an additional £2.3billion a year will be invested in mental health services by 2023-24, on top of the £500million allocated to tackle mental illness. impact of the pandemic on mental health.

The number of children accessing mental health services has also increased, with more than a million under-18s across England coming into contact with healthcare professionals for the first time by the end of 2021.

Around 12,510 of them were in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes.

Mental health charity SANE has warned the government it is “sleepwalking” into a crisis due to rising numbers of children needing nationwide support.

“The government has promised a national conversation on a new mental health strategy later this year, but we need urgent action or our failure to act now could leave us with a lost generation,” said Marjorie Wallace, CEO of SANE.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said it would launch a “national conversation” on mental health before releasing a long-term mental health plan later this year.

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This notice was published: 2022-03-24 17:34:58

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