NHS Mental Health Referrals Hit Record High in 2021

According to recent analysis, by the end of 2021 the number of referrals for specialist NHS mental health care in England reached a record high.

The analysis by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, based on data published by NHS Digital, revealed that more than 4.3 million people were sent for specialist treatment last year with the majority of referrals relating to conditions such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and eating disorders.

In the two previous years, there were approximately 3.8 million referrals, therefore seeing a significant rise of 500,000 more referrals.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists state that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a key factor in the rise of referrals and revealed that various services are struggling to keep up and are suffering from a large number of backlogs.

Grave Concern

President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Dr Adrian James, said that “the silence from government continues to be of grave concern”.

“The warning of the long tail of mental ill health caused by the pandemic has not been heeded.

“Many thousands of people will be left waiting far too long for the treatment they need unless the government wakes up to the crisis that is engulfing the country.

“Staff are working flat out to give their patients the support they need but the lack of resources and lack of staff mean it’s becoming an impossible situation to manage.

“We don’t need warm words or empty commitments.

“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.”

Action Needed

Founder and Chief Executive of mental health charity SANE, Marjorie Wallace, affirmed that there needed to be “urgent action or our failures to act now may leave us with a lost generation”

“Mental health staff are so depleted and on their knees that we know of patients and families told they have to wait until something terrible happens before action is taken.”

A spokesperson from the Department and Social Care stated: “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.”

SEE ALSO: 98.4% in England Now Have Covid Antibodies

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