Almost one in five people in Wales unable to access mental health support
- Mental health charity Mind Cymru finds that nearly a quarter of people have not been able to access mental health services in the last two weeks
- Global experts, including from Wales, have called on governments to act now and increase mental health support
The mental health charity Mind Cymru has found that almost one in five who have tried to access mental health support during lockdown have been unable to get the help they need.
The charity spoke to more than 675 people about the toll that coronavirus is taking on their mental health. Less than a quarter of people who tried to access mental health support in the past fortnight had failed to get any help – facing cancelled appointments, difficulty getting through to their GP or Community Mental Health Team, being turned away by crisis services and issues accessing digital alternatives.
The figures come as global mental health experts warned that governments must take immediate action to increase mental health support. Evidence shows that when people do not get this support early enough, they are more likely to reach crisis point and need emergency help.
Respondents told Mind Cymru of the huge risk the situation poses to their mental health and their safety:
"My mental health has got worse because there is no help anywhere. I went to A&E suicidal and was told that there was nothing they could do. I contacted the crisis team and they said the same."
"I'm starting to suffer being alone, I've had less contact with my support team and no contact with my GP."
"I'm unable to find a safe and private space to have a phone conversation."
"My GP referred me to mental health team in February. Still waiting for an appointment."
Mind Cymru found that almost half of those who didn't seek help for their mental health were worried their problems weren't important enough given the wider crisis, with others saying it was unclear whether it was safe or responsible to attend a face to face appointment.
Many are relying on organisations like Mind Cymru to get the help they urgently need. Mind's services have seen unprecedented demand, with more than a million people accessing its online information on coronavirus and mental health, and a surge in the number of people seeking support through its online community since the crisis began.
Responding to the findings, Sara Moseley, Director at Mind Cymru, said:
"As a nation, a significant number of us have seen our mental health deteriorate during the coronavirus crisis. It is therefore deeply concerning that people are struggling to get the help that they urgently need. Evidence shows that when people do not get support early enough, they end up in crisis.
"People with mental health problems have been hit hard by the current situation. The coronavirus pandemic must be treated as both a physical and mental health emergency. Our survey found a number of people with mental health problems are having appointments cancelled or aren't able to access mental health support. More worryingly, people are telling us that they are not asking for help even though they need it and that their mental health is getting worse. This is often either because they are concerned about contracting Covid19 or that they feel that what they are experiencing is not 'significant or worthy enough' of help. They don't want to be a 'burden'.
"It has never been more important that people are encouraged to access mental healthcare that is timely, appropriate and available at the point of need. If not, we are storing up more complex problems for the future. There needs to be clear and readily available information from Health Boards about what services are available and how to access them. It should be clear that if anyone needs help with their mental health, they should ask for it and get it in a timely and straightforward way.
"A key part of the plan for coming out of this pandemic is making sure that we have support in place for those who have been struggling with their mental health during lockdown and on the front line that they can get hold of quickly and effectively.
"We hope very much that Welsh Government and NHS Wales now make it clear that mental health support is open for business and that resources are available when and where they are needed. Mind Cymru and the Local Minds in Wales will also strive to support people through our own services as best we can. The coronavirus pandemic is not just a physical health emergency. People with mental health problems must not be forgotten."
We need your help to support people with mental health problems right now. To donate to Mind's emergency appeal, visit www.mind.org.uk/donate
Notes to Editors:
- Mind is surveying adults about the impact of coronavirus on mental health. At the time of publication, the survey had 676 responses. You can respond to the survey here.
- So far, the survey has predominantly been promoted using Mind's existing channels and therefore the sample is not representative of the general population and includes a higher representation of people with experience of mental health problems'.
- Only 16% of those surveyed said they had tried to access mental health services in the last two weeks. Of those, 21% had been unable to access services.
- Difficulty getting in contact with GP or Community Mental Health Team (18%), appointments being cancelled (18%), and feeling unable or uncomfortable using phone or video call technology (17%) are the three main difficulties people have experienced in accessing support over the last two weeks.
- When people did not seek help, 39% said it was because they did not think their issues were important enough.
- 42 researchers from around the world, who form the International COVID-19 Suicide Prevention Research Collaboration, wrote in The Lancet Psychiatry, that an increase in suicides is not inevitable - provided preventive action is taken imminently. https://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2020/april/covid-suicide-risk.html, April 21, 2020
- https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/25/england-campaign-targets-seriously-ill-patients-avoiding-hospitals?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other, April 25, 2020
- The Costs of Mental Ill Health, National Mental Health Development Unit, 2010
About Mind Cymru
- We're Mind Cymru, the mental health charity. We provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. We campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding. We won't give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets both support and respect. www.mind.org.uk
- Please note that Mind is not an acronym and should be set in title case.
- Mind has a confidential information and support line, Mind Infoline, available on 0300 123 3393 (lines open 9am - 6pm, Monday – Friday)
- Contact Mind's Media Team for interviews or further information on 0208 522 1743. For out of hours support, call 07850 788 514 or email [email protected]