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Impact of Covid on mental health services revealed

 

43% of patients have missed out on treatment since the pandemic began

More than four in 10 people with mental health problems in Scotland have missed out on treatment because of Covid-19, new research has shown.

The study, for the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH), found that 43% of people had experienced gaps in their care or treatments since lockdown began, while 45% said their treatment had got worse during this period.

More than half (58%) said opportunities to discuss their care or treatment had worsened since the start of lockdown.

The study also revealed the negative impact of Covid and lockdown restrictions on people who were dealing with mental health issues. The number of people coping very or quite badly with their conditions almost doubled - from 23% before the pandemic to 45% by August – and those experiencing suicidal thoughts rose to 59%, up 3% on pre-lockdown figures.

Communication with service users has also suffered during the pandemic, with 42% receiving no information on how their treatment would be affected by the pandemic and 63% saying the information they received caused them anxiety.

And concerns were raised around the priority of services and orders to protect the NHS, with one person telling SAMH: “I feel like my symptoms have got worse, but I can do nothing about it as we keep getting told to protect the NHS so I have given up basically on seeing anyone.”

Around one in ten people told researchers they had not sought help despite feeling they needed it.

Billy Watson, SAMH chief executive, said: “It is now clear that the pandemic has caused serious problems for people who need mental health services. Nationwide, fewer people are being referred for or receiving psychological therapies and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), and we’re instead seeing a shift away from people seeking professional help and instead turning to friends and family for support.

“While there have been steps to increase the capacity of mental health services, we now require an ambitious and well-resourced plan to redesign a system that was already under stress before the pandemic. Failure to do so will put lives at risk.”

 

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