This week the ONS have released statistics on the concerning increase of depression over a wide range of factors, including: sex, age, disabilities and living situations.
The report comes at a time when there have been mounting concerns over the mental health crisis hitting the nation since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Some of the most concerning statistics that certainly do point towards an oncoming crisis were adults experiencing an increase in some form of depression of “more than double” than before the pandemic, from 10% to 21%.
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) also reported that, upon being asked if participants could afford an unexpected expense of £850, those who said they could not afford this were 35% likely to experience depressive symptoms in early 2021, in comparison to 21% for those who could afford this hypothetical unexpected expense. This points to a real concern that those who have been hit financially over the past year, are struggling far more with their mental health.
The picture ONS paints for young people, and particularly young women is also very concerning.
43% of women aged 16 to 29 experienced depression in early 2021 in comparison with 26% in men of the same age range.
Across the board for young adults and adults between the years of 16 to 39, there has been an increase in depressive symptoms from 11% pre-pandemic to a shocking 29%. This statistic is particularly interesting when compared to the rates in elderly people (70 years or older) who had a small, reported increase of depressive symptoms from 5% pre-pandemic to 10% during the pandemic.
This striking difference in how age groups are seemingly being affected by the restrictions, lockdowns, changes in working etc, raise questions around whether elderly people are simply not reporting depressive symptoms because mental health awareness is not as common in older generations, or whether it is actually due to the younger generations lives who have been most impacted by the pandemic.
- See also: 'Mental health recovery plan announced by the government'
- See also: 'Royal College of Psychiatry warns children are “bearing the brunt” of the pandemic'
- See also: 'The Mental Health Foundation: mental health in the year of the pandemic'
Upon reading this report it is clear there are certain groups within the population who have been far more vulnerable to experiencing depression.
Darren Woodwood, psychotherapist and Principal at livelife, which is a digital counselling service set up by Turning Point said in response to this report and the pandemic at large: “As shown by the data published by the ONS…younger people and in particular young women, have borne the brunt of this…With one in five adults and nearly half of women aged 19-30 having experienced depression during the pandemic, it is clear that easy to access counselling is needed more than ever.”
Jo Bibby, Director of Health at the Health Foundation also had some pertinent comments in response from the stats from ONS, “Particularly concerning is that those in more precarious economic positions or burdened by existing inequalities have been disproportionately affected. This suggests that inequalities in our society have worsened as a result of the pandemic.”
They also went on to tackle the fact that, although rates in depression have increased, diagnosis by GPs fell by almost a quarter, stating that “access to metal health care is in decline” and that “Our COVID-19 impact inquiry has found that reduced access to care will have long-term implications on mental health and even greater pressure on health services.”
These statistics speak of something that is happening right now, with figures from as recent as the start of this year. There have been moves from the government and the NHS to begin to tackle this crisis, with the Mental Health Recovery Plan etc. however, many of the solutions this plan holds do not exist in the here and now.
It is, as the ONS report makes clear, very much in the here and now that people struggling need help and the only way to provide that is immediate funding for mental health services.