COVID-19 has highlighted another significant widespread problem – the mental health pandemic

An analysis has suggested that the number of referrals for specialist NHS mental health care reached a record high in England by the end of 2021.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists says the pandemic has led to unprecedented demand, and backlogs and services are struggling to meet them. The body also warned that it is “becoming an impossible situation to manage”.

In 2021, there were 4.3 million referrals, for conditions such as anxiety and depression, NHS Digital notes. Most of these referrals – 1.025 million (just under a quarter) – were made up of children and adolescents. The previous two years had each seen about 3.8 million referrals, but now there are an estimated 1.4 million people still waiting for treatment.

A government spokesperson said: "We are committed to ensuring everyone is able to access the help and advice they need, which is why we are investing an additional £2.3 billion a year into mental health services by 2023/24, on top of the £500 million we have made available to address the impact of the pandemic.

“We will be launching a national conversation to inform the development of a new long-term mental health plan later this year.”

COVID-19 has highlighted another significant widespread problem – the mental health crisis. The isolation and lack of social contact that have plagued the last two years have had a detrimental impact on today’s youth; restrictions and changes in service use have led to fewer people seeking medical help for their mental health.

This issue is not only prevalent in the adolescent population, but also in young mothers as well as nurses and NHS staff.

Dr Adrian James, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, commented on the urgent need for greater government action: "We need a fully funded plan for mental-health services, backed by a long-term workforce plan, as the country comes to terms with the biggest hit to its mental health in generations."