Laura Sharman 17 December 2020

Social workers report significant spike in nation’s mental distress

Nearly all local authorities have reported an increase in the number of people accessing mental health services for the first time, according to a new survey.

The research by the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) found 96% of local authorities reported a rise in first-time presentations of mental ill health during the first lockdown.

The research, commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care, found 60% of respondents said the level of demand for mental health services was above pre-lockdown levels.

It also found many Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHP) were concerned that withdrawal of face-to-face visits and monitoring by community services led to requests for MHA assessments which would not otherwise have been made.

Steve Chamberlain, chair of AMHP Leads Network and BASW England member, said: 'The reality is that AMHPs only see people who are in a mental health crisis – most people don’t reach that point.

'Therefore, the increase in those numbers strongly suggests that this is just the tip of the iceberg and that the pandemic has caused considerable mental distress for a great many people.'

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