Glasgow is experiencing a spike in ‘serious and complex mental illness’ since the Covid lockdown

Mental health services across Glasgow are seeing an increase in ‘serious and complex illnesses’ after new figures revealed fewer people had been referred during lockdown.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request submitted to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (GGC) confirms that the number of patients referred to community mental health teams or admitted to an inpatient ward fell between 2019 and 2021.

In 2019, 62,176 people were told they needed support from the community team or inpatient department, compared to 49,324 in 2020. The figure rose to 58,196 in 2021 and s stood at 29,087 at the end of April this year.

The NHSGGC say that with fewer people being referred to a mental health service during the pandemic, they are now seeing an increase in the severity and complexity of illness

A spokesperson for NHSGGC said: “Throughout the pandemic, we have made significant adaptations to the provision of mental health services due to an increased need for general health care as a result of Covid- 19.

“An example of this was the creation of two Mental Health Assessment Units, which were set up to provide specialist care and treatment for people facing a mental health crisis. These units reduced the pressure on the emergency services and remained operational after their successful deployment.

“However, our mental health teams have seen an increase in the severity and complexity of illnesses faced by those accessing mental health care, particularly in unscheduled care and adolescent mental health services.”

The spokesperson said the NHS was aware of increased levels of psychological distress in accessing primary care services during the pandemic and that the number of complex cases experts were now dealing with could be caused by the lockdown.

He added: “It [increase in illness] may have been caused directly by impacts associated with the pandemic or, as with other acute illnesses, exacerbated by people delaying access to care during periods of lockdown.

“We have also been aware of the increased levels of psychological distress present among those accessing primary care during the pandemic.

“Providing support for those experiencing mental health issues remains a priority and help is available for those who need it. As always, we urge anyone with mental health issues to seek help through their GP or by phoning NHS24 on 111.”

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