Mental health "timebomb" facing the UK in coming months says expert

Article By: Christopher Sharp

THE PANDEMIC has seen millions of lives undergo a period of immeasurable strain. In order to fight the virus brave nurses and doctors have had to work around the clock to keep people alive. Meanwhile, the population they're working to protect has also felt the psychological strain of just under two years inside.

The way mental health is talked about has changed a lot in the last 20 years. In the past mental health wasn’t considered as important as physical health and it wasn’t seen as something that mattered so much to how a person lived. Fast forward to today and mental health is at the forefront of the medicinal discussion. One of the major changes is people are now talking about how they feel and getting treatment rather than letting their pain fester like an open wound.

Up until the pandemic hit there had been sure but slow progress in reducing that stigma and getting more people help.

However, the lockdowns reopened that wound and made it deeper and harder to seal.

During the pandemic, the entire population underwent a mental test like never before in their lifetimes.

As a result, thousands of people are coming out of the experience scarred and looking for help; this created what Toby Fowlston, CEO of Robert Walters, describes as a mental health “timebomb”.

Fowlston says: “When we refer to mental health ‘timebomb’ it is all of the more recent issues that both professionals and their employer are yet to address.

“For example remote working was great for us all in so many ways, but our year-on-year survey also shows us the negative impact it is having to our mental health. The phenomenon here is how so many professionals (over 80%) are not willing to admit this.”

The issue Fowlston is raising here is despite the stigma of mental health easing and working from home having some benefits, employees still feel uncomfortable to discuss the impact the pandemic has had on their mental health.

Fowlston adds one of the groups hurting the most are upper-tier millennials, those aged between 33 and 39 years of age.

This group have “arguably have not had it easy and bore the brunt of several poor economic cycles including the great financial crash and the pandemic” says Fowlston.

In amidst a global pandemic and several economic crises, this group has also gone through the process of buying their first properties and starting families.

This contrasts with younger millennials and Generation Z-ers, who have not had to navigate the same type of financial hurdles.

However, this isn’t to say younger millennials and Generation Z haven’t suffered; in fact, some argue they have suffered more any other.

The pandemic didn’t just disrupt their social lives, it disrupted their education, and their psychological development.

As a result, the mental health crisis affecting young people is so acute the NHS has described it as a “second pandemic”.

Heady of policy and public affairs at the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy Martin Bell said of the situation: “Many children and young people are in distress, but aren’t always able to access timely support from local NHS services.

“Funded school counselling is vital now to ease the strain on those services, to support our children and young people before they reach crisis point, and to help the many more who may be suffering in silence.”


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