Surge anticipated in demand for mental health services

Public health services are preparing for a surge in demand for mental health services once the coronavirus lockdown is lifted.

Discussions about Southend’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic were the topic of a Health and Wellbeing Board meeting on Wednesday night, where it was highlighted that demand on mental health services is expected to rise significantly.

Sally Morris, chief executive of Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT), told the board that referrals to mental health services had dropped during the peak of the pandemic but this is not expected to last.

She said: “The number of referrals have gone down in a lot of our services and part of that, evidence shows, is that when you have a pandemic or something similar people have something else to focus on. Their concerns tend to be around the pandemic rather than physical and mental health.

“But as we come out of the pandemic we get a reset and we are really concerned there will be a surge in mental health demand.”

Alex Khaldi, chair of A Better Start Southend, echoed the concerns citing reports that have emerged following lockdown in China.

“We should be expecting a surge in mental health demand as lockdown begins to ease and I think the early signs are probably there,” he said.

“Some of the evidence coming out of China has shown that they experienced a similar surge post-end of restrictions in Wuhan.”

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Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter