Survey reveals mental health referrals rise during Covid-19 pandemic

As coronavirus restrictions begin to ease, a survey of psychiatrists carried out by the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland shows the emergence of a new mental health curve that will need flattening.

With a worrying increase in referrals, urgent and acute presentations to specialist mental health services and relapses, a previously predicted surge in mental illness presentations looks increasingly likely.

Almost 200 College member consultant psychiatrists responded to its ‘Covid-19 Impact on Mental Health Services’ survey from across Ireland.

As expected, 68% of respondents saw an initial lull in referrals to mental health service following the lockdown on March 27 with a subsequent increase in the second month of lockdown from April 24 to May 22.

Strikingly, when compared with numbers prior to the lockdown one in three consultant psychiatrists  saw an increase in the number of emergency referrals and 50% cited the number of patients experiencing a relapse of mental illness as having increased.

Commenting Dr William Flannery, President said: “Although a longer period to gather more data is needed as predicted an increase in presentations and incoming pressure on the mental health services is clearly arising. Concerns about the impact of this an already overburdened, underdeveloped Mental Health Service in Ireland are chief amongst Consultant Psychiatrists and their teams”.


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