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Isle Of Wight's Mental Health 'Getting Worse' As Some Miss Out On Services

Mental health is getting worse on the Isle of Wight due to the Covid pandemic — with some people potentially missing out on services.

At a meeting of the Isle of Wight Council’s health and wellbeing board yesterday (Thursday), health bosses said the Island is following the national trend with more people seeking help for their mental wellbeing.

Dr Michele Legg, chair of the Isle of Wight Clinical Commissioning Group, said GPs and primary care providers are definitely seeing more people, with anxiety issues, in particular, both new and existing cases, and quite a lot of teenagers and people in their early 20s presenting with problems.

Dr Lesley Stevens, the Isle of Wight NHS Trust’s director of mental health and learning difficulties, said across mental health services, referrals are back to pre-Covid levels, with there being no question it was due to lockdown and socio-economic impacts of the pandemic.

She said:

“We are seeing an increase in the severity of illnesses being presented and an increase of referrals from children and young people linked to returning to schools.”

A significant spike was apparently seen immediately after children returned to school and are expected to continue — with particularly complex eating disorders coming through to the trust.

Feedback from service users, the trust said, was that they are struggling to access the services due to Covid restrictions and the anxiety surrounding it, causing some needs to go unmet.

However, Steve Crocker, the council’s director of children’s services, said different patterns were emerging of the children coming forward.

Children who had not previously struggled may now be struggling and those who struggled at school before may now not be, as the break from school may have helped their mental wellbeing.

Mr Crocker said:

“It is a complex picture, there is definitely an increase in concern and activity, highlighted now schools are back and there are more professionals on the ground who can make those referrals.”

Cllr Clare Mosdell, cabinet member for public health and adult social care, said the impact on the whole community’s mental health ciould not be underestimated.

She said:

“We need to highlight the impact this is having on older people. I fear at the end of all of this a lot of elderly people will have become agoraphobic.

“It is really hard for the older people who have had it drummed into them that they are vulnerable and they will die if they get this illness — the long term implications of this is absolutely huge.”

More than 5,400 people shielded on the Island during the initial lockdown phase, and anxiety needs were some of the most prevalent support issues noted by the council.

Ian Lloyd, strategic manager at the council, said:

“Shielders were subjected to many months being locked away, many of whom did not want to go into the community and it did have a big impact.

“We learnt keeping in touch [was important], for people to have regular contact and still feel part of the community and supported.

“There is a good network out there we just need to know where people need the support so we can match them to it.”

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