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Mental toll of Covid-19 ‘significant’

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THE health toll of the pandemic has been set out in a new report – with more mental health prescriptions and medical treatment put off.

(Picture: Shutterstock)

The report presents some of the data gathered in the recent Bailiwick Community Survey, and Policy & Resources said the provisional findings indicated that Covid-19 and lockdown has had a significant impact on wellbeing, both positively and negatively, in a wide range of areas.

Analysis of the data is also continuing ahead of the final results.

The document has been published by P&R to accompany updated proposals for improving living standards, set to be debated by the States next week.

The revised plans are designed to reflect the impact of the pandemic and lockdown, and align with the ‘Revive and Thrive’ recovery strategy agreed by the States last month.

On mental health, it said: ‘In every household income group at least 42% of respondents stated that lockdown had a negative or strongly negative impact on their stress and anxiety levels and at least 35% declared a negative or strongly negative impact on their mental health,’ said the report.

‘Supporting this data, the number of prescription items for drugs typically prescribed for the treatment of depression, averaged over the three months from February to April, increased by 9%, relative to the same time the previous year, and there was a 3% increase in the prescription of drugs used to treat anxiety and sleep issues.

‘While there are some complicating issues in the interpretation of this prescription data (for example, some people may have been issued with additional prescriptions to cover the period of lockdown because of the reduced access to GP surgeries) it would suggest an increase in the number of people receiving a clinical prescription for a mental health issue during lockdown.’

On physical health, it said: ‘Responses also show that a significant minority of the community have had medical treatment delayed or have put off attending appointments during lockdown. Deferred or missed appointments can have significant consequences.

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‘Comments suggest that missed appointments and treatments include non-urgent surgery, routine cancer screening, attendance to ED, routine dental check-ups and more significant dental work.

‘In some cases there is a risk that such delays may have ongoing consequences, particularly if people continue to delay seeking treatment as restrictions lift.’

The impact of unemployment was noted on wellbeing, with 865 registered as entirely unemployed during the week ending 1 August 2020 compared to 359 in the first week of March.

‘While it is hoped that unemployment will continue to fall, it is expected to remain above the pre-Covid level to the end of 2020 and into 2021.

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‘There are likely to be other, less immediately visible impacts which will persist beyond the immediate crisis.’

The report noted that some people reported enjoying more time with family or benefiting financially from increased income or reduced expenses. But it added: ‘The impact will have been more significant and, importantly, more lasting for some than for others: the lifting of lockdown restrictions does not mean a return to normal life for everyone.’

Deputy Jane Stephens, member of the Policy & Resources committee, said: ‘The provisional findings of the Community Survey, although not yet finalised, show that the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown has had a significant impact on the wellbeing of our community. That’s no surprise, but now we’re able to see in more detail where and how the impact is being felt.

‘We must build on the evidence and make sure that the work we do to recover from Covid-19 addresses not only those aspects of lockdown that have affected our community negatively but also those areas where people have reported positive changes in how they have led their lives over recent months.’

Will Green

By Will Green
Business Editor

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