Lockdown: Depression 'has doubled' during Covid pandemic, says Health Secretary
Sajid Javid concedes that many people's mental health has suffered due to asking 'people to stay at home'
The proportion of adults with depression has nearly doubled since before the pandemic, the Health Secretary has said.
Sajid Javid also described the “dispiriting” backlog of care in a speech to health leaders as he said that “nothing should stand in the way” of the restoration of services.
Mr Javid also conceded that the NHS is “under huge pressure” and warned of more to come “as the nights get darker”.
On the impact of Covid-19 on mental health, Mr Javid said: “The proportion of adults that are experiencing some form of depression has nearly doubled since before the pandemic and as well as the impact on mental health services.
“There’s also a striking backlog of elective care that has built up too.
“In September this year this reached almost six million and without taking action it risks going to as high as 13 million.
“I’m sure that you find it as dispiriting as me to even think about 13 million people having to endure lengthy waits to get the care that they need.
“We must be ambitious about restoring services and not let anything stand in our way.
“So we’re embarking on the biggest catch-up plan in the history of the NHS.”
On mental health he added: “mental health is just one example sadly of because of the the necessary ask of people to stay at home or stay away from the NHS, these problems built up.
“Mental health referrals (are) up by almost a third versus pre-pandemic, especially amongst children.”
Commenting, Megan Pennell, public sffairs and campaigns manager at mental health charity Mind, said: “The Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid acknowledged himself the doubling of people with depression since the pandemic began, so it’s crucial more is done to meet increased demand, especially for children and young people.”
Mr Javid also announced that he got his booster jab earlier on Wednesday at Portmans Pharmacy in London.
The 51-year-old got his second jab on May 16.
“I’d like to take a moment just to thank you all for the part that you’ve played in this life saving programme, especially the work that you’ve done to intensify our booster programme over the past few weeks, with a million boosters given in just the last three days.
“And it’s fantastic that next week, we’ll be expanding the programme to people that are aged 40 to 49.
“Although I’m not quite 40 to 49 anymore, this morning, I joined the over 13 million people who’ve had their top up jab.”
But he added: “Although the vaccination programme is clearly having an impact, we’ve seen in the past how quickly things can change.
“So as we approach this critical winter, we’re throwing everything in our mission to keep the NHS standing strong.”