Mental health referral rates rise across east London

A collaborative social prescribing service between the council, NHS and voluntary sector has been re

Mental health referrals have risen across the UK - Credit: PA

The number of mental health referrals made through east London clinical commissioning groups (CCG) rose in March compared to the start of the pandemic, according to statistics.

The latest figures, collected by the BBC’s Shared Data Unit, contrasted the number of referrals made through CCGs in March 2021 with the number made in February 2020. 

Rates of referrals between the two monthly figures increased by 20pc in Newham, 25pc in Tower Hamlets, and 14pc in Havering. Barking and Dagenham recorded a nominal rise in referrals.

Across the country, referrals rose 19pc between the two monthly figures, with 279,995 referrals made through 117 NHS CCGs in March 2021. 

Geoff Heyes, head of health policy at the mental health charity Mind, said that the rise in referrals had been expected since the start of the pandemic. 

He said that the charity’s own analysis showed that 23pc of adults and 18pc of young people had experienced mental health problems in the past year. 

He added: “The same research also revealed that existing inequalities in housing, employment, finances and other issues have had a greater impact on the mental health of people of colour than white people and on those living in deprivation."

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Geoff said it was understandable that mental health services have had to change during the pandemic, but that digitally delivered services “must not be seen as a simple answer for overstretched mental health services”. 

“We must see people getting the support they ask for, in the way they ask for it, early on,” he added. 

Urgent crisis care referrals – made when a patient is suffering a more serious mental health crisis – were also at their highest levels across the country in two years. 

Urgent crisis care referrals were down across much of east London, although Newham CCG reported a 62pc average monthly increase. 

Data on the monthly number of mental health referrals was collected from the NHS mental health services monthly statistics. 

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