The Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland has found that one in four people say the COVID-19 pandemic will have a negative effect on their mental health in the future. The research carried out by YouGov in November also found that one third (33%) of those who had experienced a mental health problem before the pandemic said their condition had worsened since March 2020.

A poll of 1,055 people from across Scotland found that 40% of those questioned think the pandemic will be damaging to their mental health over the next year.  Just under a third (32%) thought mental health services across Scotland are poor quality and almost half (46%) said the Scottish Government is investing too little in mental health services during the coronavirus pandemic.  Click here to read more about the study

"These new statistics are deeply worrying and prove we are dealing with a mental health emergency.  All of our clinicians are working extremely hard under difficult circumstances. Lockdown, bereavement, job losses and isolation are all having a terrible effect on the population's mental health and it's concerning that those who were already dealing with mental ill health have seen their condition deteriorate.” - Dr Jane Morris, Consultant Psychiatrist, Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland


Increased rates of suicidal thoughts during lockdown

Lockdown had a major impact on the UK's mental health, including increased rates of suicidal thoughts, according to new research.

Led by the University of Glasgow and published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, it found young people, women, individuals from more socially disadvantaged backgrounds and those with pre-existing mental health problems reported the worst mental health outcomes in the initial phase of the national lockdown.

The study is the first publication from a large scale longitudinal research programme and is the most detailed examination to date of the mental health and wellbeing of the UK adult population during the first six weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The research, led by the University’s Professor Rory O’Connor, Chair in Health Psychology at the University’s Institute of Health and Wellbeing, found that suicidal thoughts increased over the first six weeks of the UK’s lockdown (one in ten or 9.8% by the end of this period). However, other factors related to suicide risk such as feelings of anxiety, levels of defeat and entrapment decreased across the same period of time. Depressive symptoms and loneliness remained relatively stable but were also adversely affected.

“While public health measures, such as lockdown, have been necessary to protect the general population, we know the effects of COVID-19 on the population’s mental health and wellbeing are likely to be profound and long-lasting. The findings from our study, showing in particular the increasing rates of suicidal thoughts, especially among young adults, is concerning, and show that we must be vigilant to this at-risk group.  As we move through this pandemic, investigating the trajectory of mental health and wellbeing is crucial to giving us a better understanding of the challenges people face during this difficult time. By having such analysis and information, we can formulate targeted mental health measures and interventions for those most in need as this pandemic continues, as well as being prepared for future.” - Professor Rory O’Connor, University of Glasgow

To read a summary of the research, visit the University of Glasgow website by clicking here

To read the study, ‘Mental health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic: longitudinal analyses of adults in the UK COVID-19 Mental Health & Wellbeing study’ which was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, click here

Report shows a lack of treatment to support people with mental health problems

There is a lack of treatment and support for adults with mental health problems, available in Scotland today. That’s one of the key findings in a new report by the 78- member Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on Mental Health, as part of its inquiry into progress with the Scottish Government’s Mental Health Strategy.

The report found that there is emerging evidence of some positive outcomes in access to mental health treatment, including progress on perinatal support and new funding to bring mental health into multi-disciplinary teams. Some new mental health initiatives have been established in response to the coronavirus outbreak, while pre-existing programmes have been expanded.

However, psychological therapies and counselling are not readily accessible for people with mental health problems, and people lack choice in the type of therapy they receive. The group also reports that children and young people continue to be left without support and is concerned that the scale of investment in new services may not meet demand.

“When it comes to access to treatment, we are right to recognise the progress that has been made but we cannot do so without acknowledging that for many this still proves far more difficult than it should be. Demand is often too great, resources too few or patchy and, definitely from what we hear from the group, it is inconsistent across the country.” - Oliver Mundell MSP, Co-Convenor of the Cross-Party Group

The group is urging that people be given a choice in how they receive support; digital cannot be the default, and the report calls for people with mental health problems to receive targeted support from the Scotland Programme, which provide free digital resources, data and skills training.

The report notes that many people with mental health problems feel abandoned, having had their support withdrawn, with often limited attempts to reinstate support as lockdown eased and services began to remobilise. The group strongly feels that the onus to reinstate support that was in place before the outbreak of coronavirus should be on mental health services, and not on individuals.

To read the report from the Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on Mental Health, click here

HDS is a charity that exists to improve mental health and emotional wellbeing through professional training, CPD and the provision of counselling and psychotherapy in Scotland.  Our mission is to relieve mental and emotional distress by increasing the availability of, and access to, high quality psychodynamic and psychoanalytic counselling and psychotherapy for all who need them.