Portsmouth mental health referrals drop by half during coronavirus pandemic

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THE number of people with depression or anxiety referred for therapy halved during lockdown in Portsmouth, new figures reveal.

Last April, NHS data showed that 585 people were referred to psychological therapies for depression and anxiety in the NHS Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group area.

But the latest figures show that this April, the number had fallen to just 285 – a drop of 51 per cent.

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In the South East Hampshire CCG area there was a drop of 47 per cent, from 365 last year to 195 this year.

Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

There was a drop of 39 per cent in the Fareham and Gosport CCG area with 185 people seen this year compared to 305 seen in April, 2019.

Julie Parker, chief executive of Havant and East Hampshire Mind, said the drop was a concern but that numbers had started to slightly increase in the last couple of weeks.

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She added: ‘It is a worry but we have seen a drop across the board for all health services and I think it comes from a feeling of anxiety that people have about leaving the house at the moment.

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‘We all have our part to play in the pandemic and keeping everyone safe but this has meant it is constantly in the media and this is adding to that anxiety that people already have.

‘The numbers have started to increase slightly in the last couple of weeks which is good and hopefully as things open up more then we will see that increase more.’

Across England, referrals were down by 57 per cent, falling from 133,191 to 57,814.

The number of patients starting treatment fell from 95,070 to 62,375, a decrease of 34 per cent.

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Dr David Crepaz-Keay, from the Mental Health Foundation charity, said the figures were ‘troubling’, but that the health service is only one source of support for mental health.

He said: ‘There are many other ways the Government can support the mental health of the millions who have been especially hard-hit by the pandemic.

‘This includes action to increase people's financial and physical security, so they don't have to fear running out of food or fuel or being evicted.’

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