Two of the country’s leading user-led anxiety charities have called for a greater focus to be placed on the country’s mental health as they report a huge surge in demand for their services and calls to their helplines in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak.
OCD-UK report call volumes have increased by over 35% since the outbreak while Anxiety UK have more than doubled their helpline operating hours from 40 to 82.5 per week, and reported a huge increase in calls of 364% last week.
Anxiety UK and OCD-UK say the impact of the government’s policy to restrict travel and movement is increasingly having an adverse effect on those with mental health issues such as anxiety, OCD and other anxiety related conditions and that any further restrictions are only likely to heighten and further escalate the problem.
Ashley Fulwood, CEO of OCD-UK said: “While we fully understand and support the restrictions to limit the spread of COVID-19, many people with anxiety and OCD have had their usual coping strategies taken away. The longer the restrictions remain in place the bigger and more severe this problem will become.”
Nicky Lidbetter, CEO of Anxiety UK, added: “We know from both the volume and themes of the calls that our two organisations are receiving (including callers presenting in crisis), that the scale of the problem will only increase in the coming weeks if the appropriate crisis care and support is not readily available for those with anxiety disorders, who are not usually in touch with crisis mental health services but who now urgently need this support.”
The pair also believe greater emphasis should be placed on the ensuring that there is parity between physical and mental health. For example, many believe that the term ‘vulnerable’ when used in connection with COVID-19, does not include those with mental health difficulties, yet many with mental health difficulties including anxiety disorders, are most definitely vulnerable.
Both also share a real concern that the progress made over the last few years in respect of mental health being put on an equal footing with physical health, is in danger of being eroded without these matters being appropriately addressed.
About Anxiety UK
Anxiety UK, established in 1970, is a registered charity that offers support and information services to anyone affected by anxiety, stress and anxiety-based depression.
Services include: national helpline, text, live chat and email support service – 03444 775 774, nationwide 1:1 therapy service offering Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), clinical hypnotherapy, counselling and acupuncture, training and consultancy services, Employee Assistance Programmes and access to the popular mindfulness app, Headspace.
New services that have been developed specifically in response to COVID-19 include:
- Expert-led support webinars on subject such as ‘dealing with uncertainty’
- Peer-led, online support groups
- Therapist-led support groups
- Access to the eTherapy package- Beating the Blues
- Extended national helpline service
For further information: 03444 775 774 – [email protected]
For further information about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, please visit the OCD-UK website at: https://www.ocduk.org
If you have a query about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder you can contact the OCD-UK advice line on 03332 127 890 which is usually available between 10am – 4:45pm (Mon – Fri).