The nation’s mental health has not recovered since the “dark days” of the pandemic

Government urgently needs to make mental health a priority

Government urgently needs to make mental health a priority “more than ever” (Image: Getty Images)

The lifting of Covid restrictions initially marked a “watershed moment” for the mental health of millions in the UK.

After two incredibly troubled years that severely impacted the mental health of many, people have been allowed to rejoin society and interact with friends, family and colleagues again.

But while there was a brief chance to heal and “finally return to our formal lives,” with the wave of negative developments in 2022, it was not to last.

New online research by YouGov for Rethink Mental Illness shows that mental health has deteriorated since earlier in the year when the nation was in the midst of the Omicron wave and Plan B pandemic restrictions were in place

The charity found that over a quarter of UK adults (29%) report their mental health has gotten worse now compared to earlier in the year, versus 21% who said it was better.

Of those who indicated their mental health had deteriorated since January 2022:

  • 1 in 5 people (20%) reported having suicidal thoughts
  • More than 1 in 10 (12%) reported having experienced a mental health crisis and needing professional support
  • 21% reported having experienced panic attacks

The state of mind is also shaped by the uncertainty caused by the cost of living crisis and the war in Ukraine.

Tom Dunning, 31, who has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, social anxiety disorder and PTSD, has experienced a decline in his mental health this year.

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“I worry about the recession and the possibility that the government just isn’t making the necessary investments in mental health.”

He told Metro.co.uk: “Since the beginning of the year my mental health has deteriorated to the point that I’ve had to be laid off from work.

“The rising cost of living has made it difficult for me to afford the things I need, leading to many nights wide awake wondering how to pay the bills and with members of my family in the armed forces I did it also felt unsettled and concerned about the war in Ukraine.

“I’ve experienced mental illness in the past and over the years I’ve picked up tools to cope and have recovered well. But the constant stress and worry this year has thrown my sanity on shaky ground, thwarted some of the good progress I had made, and left me in a dark place.

“Looking ahead, I am concerned about the recession and the possibility that the government simply will not make the necessary investments in mental health.

Tom, 31, feels many are

Tom, 31, feels many are “slipping backwards” when it comes to their mental health (Image: )

“I’m lucky to have such brilliant support from my family, but I know a lot of people are in a similar boat to me – things should get better post-pandemic but we’re slipping backwards.”

Findings from the YouGov research showed that younger adults were more likely to face significant mental health challenges this year.

Almost 1 in 3 people aged 18 to 24 who reported their mental health was worse reported suicidal thoughts (32%) and just under a quarter (24%) reported a mental health crisis that had required professional support.

Other effects that were highly reported across all age groups are low mood/depression (77%), feeling anxious and/or worried (74%) and trouble sleeping (60%).

Brian Dow, deputy chief executive of Rethink Mental Illness, told Metro.co.uk: “The pandemic has confined us to our homes, separating us from our family and friends and upending our daily routines, and for many this has solved it a decline from their sanity.

“The end of pandemic restrictions earlier this year should mark a tipping point where we could begin to heal and finally return to our former lives. But this survey shows that without lockdowns and social distancing, our mental health has not recovered and a staggering number of people are having suicidal thoughts or reaching crisis.

“Households are now grappling with a cost-of-living crisis and with the difficult times ahead as the country slides into recession, there is an urgent need more than ever for the government to make mental health a priority.

“In recent years there has been much more awareness and discussion about mental health, and despite the pandemic there have even been some improvements in how services are increasing the number of people they support.

SAT 8AM: Half of people living with a mental health problem have less than £100 in savings Credit Getty

The cost of living crisis is taking a huge toll on people’s mental health (Image: Getty Images)

“However, it remains the case that people too often endure unacceptably long waiting lists to access the care and treatment they need.

“However, ensuring that the NHS has enough resources to provide support to those who need it, when they need it, will not alone bring about the changes needed to protect and improve mental health for generations to come.

“The NHS cannot be solely responsible for our well-being – people need to be supported before their mental health suffers. The government must publish a funded 10-year mental health and well-being plan outlining how to address the causes of mental illness and how to support people to live well in their communities.”

If you are struggling with your finances, a mental health and money counseling service is available.

More information on Rethink Mental Illness can be found here

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

For more stories like this, Visit our news page.

https://metro.co.uk/2022/11/27/nations-mental-health-failed-to-recover-since-dark-days-of-pandemic-17826698/ The nation's mental health has not recovered since the "dark days" of the pandemic

Justin Scacco

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