Mental health services could be impacted for ‘years to come’

The pandemic may have a huge impact on young people seeking mental health support in the future,

Mental health services could be impacted for ‘years to come’ Getty Images

Mental health services for young people could be dealing with the impact of coronavirus for “years to come”, a consultant psychiatrist has said.

Dr Julie Arthur said it was clear that more people were struggling during the winter lockdown than at the start of the pandemic.

Writing a blog post for BMA Scotland, she said many patients were presenting themselves to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) while “very unwell”.

Many of these patients needed intensive treatment or hospital admission, she said.

Dr Arthur continued: “Of course, the negative impacts of social isolation on mental health are well known and children need the social interaction and stimulation of school and activities.

“I really worry about our more vulnerable families living in poverty, poor housing and lacking accessible, safe outdoor space.

“We know that the mental health of adults has suffered throughout the pandemic and this inevitably has a huge impact on their children.

“Our colleagues in social work tell us they are equally busy dealing with concerns relating to parental depression, anxiety and alcohol misuse.”

Calling for better recruitment and retention of psychiatrists, she added: “I fear in CAMHS we may not be passed our peak and could be seeing the impact of this pandemic for years to come.

“Services which have struggled with chronically long waiting lists will find it ever harder to cope.”

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