Cases of Psychosis on Rise in England Amid COVID Pandemic
09:27 GMT 18.10.2021 (Updated: 21:39 GMT 18.10.2022)
In a study released in early April, UK scientists argued that research had confirmed their suspicions that a coronavirus diagnosis doesn't only mean respiratory symptoms, but also involves "psychiatric and neurological problems".
Data from England's National Health Service (NHS) revealed a 75% increase in the number of people referred to mental clinics for their first suspected episode of psychosis between April 2019 and April 2021 amid stresses from the COVID-19 pandemic
According to the data, the increase persisted throughout this past summer, with 12,655 people referred to mental health services in July 2021, a 53% rise from 8,252 in July 2019.
27 September 2021, 10:58 GMT
This was echoed by England-based charity Rethink Mental Illness, which pointed out that much of the increase in psychosis cases was registered over the last year, in the wake of the first national coronavirus lockdown.
The charity's deputy chief executive, Brian Dow, stressed that psychosis "can have a devastating impact on people's lives", which is why "swift access to treatment is vital to prevent further deterioration in people's mental health which could take them years to recover from".
Dow warned that the soaring numbers of suspected first episodes of psychosis are a "cause for alarm", adding that with the UK currently "well beyond the first profound shocks of this [COVID] crisis, […] it's deeply concerning that the number of referrals remains so high".
The deputy chief executive argued that "this steep rise raises additional concerns about the pressures the younger generation have faced during the [coronavirus] pandemic
", which "has had a gamechanging effect on our mental health and it requires a revolutionary response".
He called for "dedicated additional funding for mental health and social care" that "must go to frontline services to help meet the new demand, otherwise thousands of people could bear a catastrophic cost".
Psychosis is a condition when people start losing some contact with reality. This might involve seeing or hearing things that other people cannot see or hear (hallucinations) and believing things that are not actually true (delusions).
Per guidelines related to those experiencing a suspected first episode of psychosis, they should receive speedy treatment within two weeks.