The number of people accessing primary mental health services almost halved in the first five months this year, compared to last year, as lockdown took effect.
However, that has risen to normal levels since and there is a waiting list of 58 as some have been holding out for face-to-face meetings rather than virtual calls.
Deputy Jennifer Merrett submitted a number of questions about the effect lockdown has had on the community's physical and mental health.
"The effect and threat that coronavirus has in our community has been well articulated, but I am concerned in regard to how much consideration has been given to the wider effect that the emergency powers have had on our community’s health and wellbeing," said Deputy Merrett.
"For clarity I mean our community’s mental, physical and fiscal health. I am very concerned with regards to the unintended consequences, or perhaps they were the unknown consequences, that the emergency regulations have had on our community’s health and wellbeing."
Pictured: HSC President Heidi Soulsby responded to the Rule 14 questions.
Deputy Merrett asked for comparisons between the number of people waiting for and accessing mental health services in the first five months of 2020 and the same period last year.
HSC President Deputy Heidi Soulsby said the amount of people seeking help had gone up this year.
"Between 1 January and 31 May 2019, 618 individuals accessed Healthy Minds (formerly the Primary Care Mental Health & Wellbeing Service) compared to 352 individuals during the same period this year. Individuals may be referred to the service through primary care or can self-refer through the online portal," she said. "While there was a reduction in referrals during lockdown, these have now returned to near normal rates.
"There are currently 58 individuals on the waiting list. As the service receives approximately 1500 requests a year, it is used to dealing with high case numbers. While face-to-face working has resumed in Phase 5, treatment and assessment were available throughout lockdown via the telephone and online via Microsoft Teams. Some individuals declined support in this manner and opted to wait for face-to-face appointments."
There has been a reduction in people being referred to secondary mental health services during lockdown, however that is mainly attributed to a reduction in the number of referrals from primary care during lockdown.
Pictured: Some of the States' mental health services are based at the Oberlands.
Deputy Soulsby acknowledgment there is a need to invest more in mental health services.
"Arrangements have been in place throughout lockdown to support specific groups – frontline workers from HSC, Education and the private sector - who may have been significantly impacted by the pandemic," she said. "At this stage, there is no evidence to suggest that any wider changes are needed for the population as a whole as a direct result of lockdown, as it is considered that any need within the community can be managed via existing treatment pathways.
"The Committee remains of the view more broadly that further investment in mental health services is needed. The Committee successfully laid an amendment to the Policy & Resource Plan 2018 Review and 2019 Update which included a commitment to address gaps in community-level mental health and wellbeing provision, in collaboration with States Committees, the Government of Jersey and the Third Sector."
The Rule 14 questions and responses can be found in full HERE.
Pictured top: Deputy Jennifer Merrett.
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