One in four people say the pandemic will have a negative effect on their mental health in the future, according to new research.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland study also found that for those who had experienced a mental health problem before the pandemic, one third (33%) said their condition had worsened since March 2020.
A poll of 1,055 people from across Scotland found that 40% of those questioned think the pandemic will be damaging to their mental health over the next year.
Just under a third (32%) thought mental health services across Scotland are bad and almost half (46%) said the Scottish Government is investing too little in mental health services during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych) in Scotland is now calling for more investment and commitment for mental health services, to deal with the forthcoming demand.
Dr Jane Morris, consultant psychiatrist from RCPsych in Scotland, said: “These new statistics are deeply worrying and prove we are dealing with a mental health emergency.
“All of our clinicians are working extremely hard under difficult circumstances.
“Lockdown, bereavement, job losses and isolation are all having a terrible effect on the population’s mental health and it’s concerning that those who were already dealing with mental ill health have seen their condition deteriorate.
“We need more medical students and doctors to choose psychiatry to keep up with demand, but we also need solid and decisive government action on workforce, infrastructure and funding.”
The College is launching the Choose Psychiatry in Scotland campaign to encourage more trainee doctors to take up the specialism.
The research was carried out by YouGov in November.
Abigail Reynolds, 37, from Portobello in Edinburgh, has two children aged six years and 18 months, and was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa in 2019 when she was seven months pregnant.
She warned there will be a huge fallout from the pandemic on mental health.
She was discharged from inpatient hospital treatment just before lockdown and the plan was to continue treatment and recovery at home – but then lockdown began.
She said: “Living through a pandemic has really taken its toll. The first few weeks were particularly tough. Face-to-face therapy and weigh-ins stopped. Then my boys’ school and nursery closed.
“There was also the added pressure of isolation and not being able to have the support of my friends and family. This was all a huge melting pot and had an enormous effect on my mental state.
“Living with an eating disorder is horrific and trying to recover when suddenly people are panic buying, so you have no access to the food you need for your meal plan, is difficult. ”
She added: “There’s going to be a huge fallout mental health-wise from the pandemic, and that’s why I’m supporting the Choose Psychiatry in Scotland campaign.
“Without a doubt, my psychiatrist and her amazing team saved my life. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for my psychiatrist.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We have invested significantly in additional support, including £1.1 billion for NHS boards and integration authorities to meet the costs of responding to the pandemic.
“Funding for additional mental health costs is included with the £1.1 billion allocation, and we expect that to be used to meet those pressures.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic we have provided £6 million of dedicated funding to provide additional telephone and online support services.
“This includes £2.1 million to expand the NHS 24 Mental Health Hub to be available to the public 24 hours a day for seven days a week, £1.2 million to provide extra capacity for computerised cognitive behavioural therapy (CCBT) and over £1 million to roll out the Distress Brief Intervention (DBI) programme on a national basis.
“Protecting good mental health in Scotland will be central to our long-term response to the pandemic and, as set out in our recent Mental Health Transition and Recovery plan, the Scottish Government is committed to doing more.”
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