Charity warns government is 'sleepwalking' into crisis after nearly 90,000 in Northamptonshire referred to mental health services during 2021
"We need urgent action or our failures to act now may leave us with a lost generation,' says SANE chief executive
Nearly 90,000 people were referred to mental health services in Northamptonshire last year, new figures show.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists says the coronavirus pandemic is the "biggest hit" to England's mental health in generations and has urged the Government to address growing referral lists across the country.
NHS Digital figures show around 88,225 people in the NHS Northamptonshire Clinical Commissioning Group area were referred for a mental health appointment in 2021.
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In April 2020, Corby CCG and Nene CCG merged to form one county-wide group, meaning comparison to previous periods is not available.
Mental health charity SANE warned the Government it is "sleepwalking" into a crisis due to the rising number of children requiring support nationally.
"The Government has promised a national conversation on a new mental health strategy later this year, but we need urgent action or our failures to act now may leave us with a lost generation," said Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of SANE.
Nationally, 4.3 million people were referred for mental health care last year, up from 3.7 million in 2020 and the highest number since records began.
The number of people in contact with mental health services across the country has also increased.
At the end of last year, 1.35 million people were working with mental health services, up from 1.26 million at the end of 2020.
Approximately 14,325 were using mental health services in Northamptonshire at the end of 2021, down from around 15,415 the previous year.
NHS England says the national rise in mental health referrals has resulted in a backlog and increase in demand for services.
In a recent report, it estimated 1.4 million people eligible for mental health care across England were yet to receive it, with a further eight million deemed to benefit from accessing help if barriers preventing people from accessing care were reduced.
The Department for Health and Social Care said an extra £2.3 billion per year will be invested in mental health services by 2023-24, on top of £500million apportioned to tackle the pandemic's impact on mental health.
The number of children accessing mental health services has also increased, with more than one million under-18s across England in contact with health professionals for the first time at the end of 2021.
Roughly 4,880 of them were in Northamptonshire, up from around 4,255 at the end of 2020.
A Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson said it will launch a "national conversation" about mental health before publishing a long-term Mental Health Plan later this year.