Covid-19 and the nation’s mental health: October 2020

1 October 2020

Forecasting needs and risks in the UK

Nick O’Shea
1 October 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has created economic, health and social uncertainty and insecurity. While the impact on our mental health and need for mental health services is yet unknown, it is crucial that we prepare for an increase in demand to protect people’s wellbeing across the country.

We have worked with NHS colleagues to build a model based on the best available evidence to forecast how many people may need mental health support as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The primary purpose of the model is to support local organisations to predict levels of need for mental health support among children and adults in their communities. You can access the model here.

Nationally, in England, the model predicts that up to 10 million people (almost 20% of the population) will need either new or additional mental health support as a direct consequence of the crisis. 1.5 million of those will be children and young people under 18.

Some groups are more at risk of experiencing mental ill health, including people with existing mental health conditions, NHS workers, ICU patients and their families, those who have been bereaved and those affected by unemployment. As further evidence becomes available, the figures may rise: for example when the extent of the unequal effects of the pandemic on Black and minority ethnic communities, on care homes and disabled people becomes clear.

The Government and the NHS can and must take steps now to prepare for this additional need among people of all ages. A proactive, timely, compassionate and effective response will help people experiencing mental health difficulties before they reach crisis point.

Watch author Nick O’Shea explain the key findings of our analysis, firstly for the whole population and then specifically for children and young people:

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