Depression and anxiety on the rise in Essex as a result of pandemic, council warns

The pandemic has resulted in an increase in people seeking mental health support. Credit: PA

There has been a rise in the number of people seeking mental health support in Essex, new figures show.

Essex County Council estimates around 20% of the county's population may experience depression as a result of the pandemic, while anxiety levels are also increasing.

Nationally, the number of assessments by adult mental health practitioners have increased by around 50%.

The Essex Mental Health and Wellbeing Team is also seeing its highest number of referrals since it was established.

To try to combat the problem, the council have set up a campaign, called Mental Health Essex, to provide information and support to anyone who' struggling to cope.

Early data reveals that as a country, anxiety has risen and wellbeing has fallen as a result of Covid-19, and Essex is no different, which is obviously very concerning.

Dr Mike Gogarty, Director of Public Health Essex

“Our own research suggests that the rates of depression for adults in the county may rise from affecting 11.1% of the population to 22.6% with anxiety levels possibly rising from 18% to 21.6%," Director of Public Health, Dr Mike Gogarty said.

"This would take the total population of those with common mental health concerns from 128,000 individuals to 195,000 individuals. We must do all we can to stop this happening by reaching out to these people and ensuring they are aware of the support available to them."

Meanwhile, a survey carried out by the mental health charity 'TalkOut' has found that nearly two thirds of Norwich workers haven’t received any mental health support or advice from their employer since the start of the pandemic.

According to the study, 67% of respondents from the city said they felt anxious and apprehensive about returning to work and just over a third said that their mental health is worse now compared to before lockdown.

Just over 40% of respondents admitted they feel uncertain about the future of their job as a result of the pandemic, and the research also found that only 36% of employees have been offered some sort of mental health support or advice.

“Mental health has been on the business agenda for some time, but if there’s one thing this crisis has made clear, it’s that there is still a long way to go when it comes to providing effective support to employees," Jill Mead, CEO of TalkOut, said.

“Unfortunately, whilst businesses were quick to adapt to social distancing and working from home, for many, the emotional wellbeing of employees was an afterthought. But the psychological strain of the crisis is impossible to ignore and whether staff have been working on the frontline, furloughed, or working from home, it’s likely to have a long-term impact.

"In time, Britain will come to review its response to the Coronavirus pandemic, but mental health can’t wait.”