The coronavirus pandemic has not just impacted people’ physical health but also their mental wellbeing, health secretary Sajid Javid said in his address at the Global Mental Health Summit 2021 on Tuesday (September 5).
Calling poor mental health an “invisible killer” Javid said: “Around 1 in 5 adults in Britain experienced some form of depression in the first 3 months of this year. That’s over double the figure before we started our fight against Covid-19.”
Poor mental health induced by the pandemic led to more people seeking help across the world.
Citing a survey by the World Health Organization (WHO), he said the pandemic disrupted mental health services in 93 per cent of countries worldwide.
To tackle the situation and help people, in England 24/7 crisis hotlines were set up that have received 3 million calls since the start of the pandemic.
Besides, the government have committed an extra £2.3 billion per year to transform mental health services in the country by 2023.
He added: “We’ve also strengthened mental health support for colleagues on the frontline, and we’re reforming our Mental Health Act to make sure that everyone is treated with respect that they deserve.”
Javid urged people to talk more openly about their mental health and wellbeing.
He said: “We know that, for every person who comes forward, there are more who’re suffering in silence. So we must keep encouraging people to get help if they need it and keep working to eliminate the stigma that’s far too often attached to mental health so that people know it’s OK not to be OK.”
He added that mental health issues must be “treated with the same urgency as physical health.”
Javid highlighted that disparities in mental health are often linked with other disparities such as economic background.
“In the UK, children from the poorest 20 per cent of households are 4 times as likely to have serious mental health difficulties by the age of 11 compared with those from the wealthiest 20 per cent of households.”