Millions in England face ‘second pandemic’ of mental health issues

Millions of patients in England face dangerously long waits for mental health care unless ministers urgently draw up a recovery plan to tackle a “second pandemic” of depression, anxiety, psychosis and eating disorders, NHS leaders and doctors have warned.

The Covid crisis has sparked a dramatic rise in the numbers of people experiencing mental health problems, with 1.6 million waiting for specialised treatment and another 8 million who cannot get on the waiting list but would benefit from support, the heads of the NHS Confederation and the Royal College of Psychiatrists reported.

Mental Health Crisis

Cost-of-living crisis threat of ‘pandemic proportions’ to mental health, warns UK’s leading psychiatrist.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists is calling for an urgent cash injection for NHS mental health services to match inflation.

The President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists has warned that “the cost-of-living crisis poses a threat of pandemic proportions to the nation’s mental health.”

Addressing the RCPsych International Congress, Dr Adrian James, said that “food insecurity, fuel poverty, debt and the loneliness and isolation that come with it, are a hard reality for millions of people.”

With mental health referrals at record levels of 4.3m last year and a backlog of 1.4m people still waiting to start treatment, pressure on the NHS is likely to reach new unprecedented levels. Dr James added:

“Much like with the pandemic, those already living with a mental illness are more likely to suffer the consequences of the looming economic downturn, which will be felt for years to come. We must be ready to offer them the specialist, high quality care we know can make a difference.”

Parents in the UK have been pushed to the edge, with more than two thirds worried about paying for food, energy and fuel over the next year, the largest poll of UK parents since the COVID-19 pandemic finds today.


Almost three in four parents (74%) said that over the next year they are concerned about paying for gas and electricity, while two thirds were concerned about paying for food (67%) and petrol (67%), in a nationwide poll of 5,000 UK parents conducted by Opinium in the weeks running up to the start of the new school year.

Last week, the energy regulator Ofgem announced that on 1 October the energy price cap will rise to £3,549 per year for the average household, a rise of 80% from its previous level.

Heat or Eat
Heat or Eat

Revealing the extent of the cost of living crisis facing families as they prepare to start the new school year, the survey finds that over the next year:

58% are concerned about being able to make rent or mortgage payments;

Over half are concerned about being able to pay for unsecured loans, such as credit card and personal loans (53%) and about being able to pay for childcare (52%).

The cost of living crisis has already affected how parents were able to manage this summer, with 6 in 10 (60%) worrying about being able to pay for activities for their child over the school holidays.

The poll also reveals how COVID-19 has contributed to the anxieties of many families, with 56% concerned about the pandemic’s effects on their children’s mental health. Over 1 in 4 (27%) said their child had previously struggled with mental health issues as a result of the pandemic, and a further 30% said their child was still struggling with mental health issues as a result of it. Parents also expressed concern at the long-term impact of the pandemic, with over half worried about the time their child lost in education due to nursery or school closures (57%), about lost and missed services such as speech and language therapy (55%) and in missed social interactions with other children (60%).

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‘Overwhelmed’ food banks forced to turn people away after running out of food

Food banks are running out of supplies amid an “overwhelming” surge of new people falling into hardship during the cost of living crisis, with some charities forced to turn away families in need.

More emergency food parcels were given out during the April to September 2022 period than ever before for this time of year. Over the last six months, more than 320,000 people have been forced to turn to food banks in the Trussell Trust network for the first time.

1.3 million – The number of emergency food parcels given to people facing hardship by food banks in the Trussell Trust network between 1 April 2022 and 30 September 2022.

Shocking map reveals real-life cost of living struggles for Suffolk residents

The real-life effects of skyrocketing prices have been laid bare in a new interactive map produced by campaign group 38 Degrees, which contains stories from around the UK of people struggling to cope with rising prices and other pressures linked to the current economic crisis.

Each point on the map represents someone who has agreed to share their current struggles. The online campaign organisation says: “They are the stories behind the stats, the names behind the numbers.”

Shocking map reveals scale of Norfolk cost of living crisis

The map, produced by progressive campaign organisation 38 Degrees, features submitted stories from people struggling to pay their energy bills, housing costs, or living in food poverty.

In Norfolk alone, it shows a range of people – retired and working, parents and non-parents – who are worried about how to make ends meet.


The risks of most concern to the UK public

Amid the highest inflation since the early 1980s and spiralling energy bills the UK public is increasingly worried about the cost of living crisis, with 86% of people concerned about day-to-day living costs – and just over half (54%) saying they are very concerned.

The findings of our annual survey of 2,000 UK adults, conducted by Opinium in August 2022, shows a major shift over the past 12 months in the risks people are most concerned about and that will have an impact on their daily lives, from the pandemic and other health crises to financial worries.

The issues that will impact daily life the most over the next year

The UK public expects financial pressures to impact them the most over the next 12 months, with day to day living costs, potential recession and increased taxes topping the list of issues survey respondents say will have an impact on their daily lives.

Just over half (54%) of all UK adults say day to day living costs will have a high or very high impact on their daily lives over the next 12 months but other financial pressures aren’t felt evenly across all age groups, with 18-34 year olds anticipating the greatest impact. For example, just under half (48%) of 18-34 year olds say a potential recession will have a high or very high impact on their daily life over the next year, compared to just over a third (36%) of over 55s. And 48% of 18-34 year olds say increased taxes will have a high or very high impact on them, compared to just over a quarter (27%) of over 55’s.