Cases of psychosis have skyrocketed in the past two years in England as increasing numbers of people experience hallucinations and delusional thoughts amid the stress of the Covid-19 pandemic.
There was a 75% increase in the number of people referred to mental health services for their first suspected episode of psychosis between April 2019 and April 2021, NHS data shows.
The increase continued throughout the summer, with 12,655 referred in July 2021, 53% more than the 8,252 in July 2019.
Much of the increase has been seen in the last year, after the first national shutdown, according to data analyzed by the charity Rethink Mental Illness. More than 13,000 referrals were made in May 2021, a 70% increase from the previous May when there were 7,813 referrals.
The charity is urging the government to invest more in early intervention for psychosis to prevent further deterioration in people’s mental health from which it could take them years to recover.
He says the statistics provide some of the first concrete evidence to indicate the significant levels of distress experienced in the population during the pandemic.
A study earlier this month found that anxiety and depression worldwide rose dramatically in 2020, with an estimated 76 million additional cases of anxiety and 53 million additional cases of major depressive disorder than would have been expected. if Covid hadn’t hit. Women and youth were disproportionately affected, the researchers said.
Psychosis It can involve seeing or hearing things that other people do not see (hallucinations) and developing beliefs that are not based on reality (delusions), which can be very distressing. It can be a symptom of a mental illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or severe depression, but psychosis can also be unique, potentially triggered by a traumatic experience, extreme stress, or drug and alcohol abuse.
Despite continued pressure on mental health services, Rethink Mental Illness highlights the importance of prompt access to treatment to prevent further episodes of psychosis and reduce the risk of people developing serious mental illness.
Good guidelines for people experiencing a suspected first episode of psychosis state that they should receive an evaluation within two weeks. However, the charity fears that if the increase in referrals continues, more people will have to wait longer for vital treatment.
Brian Dow, Deputy Executive Director of Rethink Mental Illness, said: “Psychosis can have a devastating impact on people’s lives. Quick access to treatment is vital to prevent further deterioration in people’s mental health, which could take years to recover.
“This dizzying number of suspected first episodes of psychosis is cause for alarm. We are now well beyond the first deep shocks of this crisis, and it is deeply concerning that the number of referrals remains so high. As the first presentations of psychosis typically occur in young adults, this sharp increase raises additional concerns about the pressures the younger generation has faced during the pandemic.
“The pandemic has had a changing effect on our mental health and requires a revolutionary response. Dedicated additional funds for mental health and social care should go to front-line services to help meet the new demand; otherwise, thousands of people could bear a catastrophic cost. “
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “It is vital that everyone can get the right support when they need it and we are providing the fastest expansion in mental health services in the history of the NHS, backed by an additional £ 2.3 billion. per year by 2023/24, benefiting hundreds of thousands more.
“On top of this, we have invested an additional £ 500 million this year to help people whose mental health has been particularly affected by the pandemic. All NHS mental health providers have established 24/7 hotlines, which have answered around three million calls during the pandemic. ”
‘My head told me to take care of hearing voices’
Tom Dunning, 30, has a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, social anxiety disorder, and PD.SOUTH DAKOTA.
“I was about 22 or 23 when I started experiencing symptoms of psychosis. Almost overnight, after finishing the race, my head told me to take care of hearing voices. Listening to them was an everyday occurrence and it practically scared me because I didn’t think anything was wrong, so I couldn’t tell anyone how I felt.
“I had experienced bullying in my childhood and now I felt like my own mental health was harassing me because of the voices telling me to do things. Everyone around me began to notice differences and knew that something was wrong, but was afraid to admit it. I finally saw my GP and it was the first time that I thought I needed support, but it was also the first time that I knew it was something I could overcome.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism