A new research project has looked at a number of lead indicators to assess a person’s mental health, with the extra pressures brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic being highlighted as one of the main factors.
The results come at the same time as Mental Health Awareness Week and they show that the number of adults having self-harm or suicidal thoughts increased by nearly half, with a 64 per cent increase in men under 18 also showing these concerns.
Indeed young people seemed to be one of the worst affected groups, with self harm up by a quarter in this demographic while 10-13 year olds having suicidal thoughts grew by more than 50 per cent.
The Kooth Pulse 2021 – The State of the Nation’s Mental Health study – used anonymous data from 192,000 users with those at the company looking to highlight the importance of early intervention to deal with mental health issues.
Tim Barker, CEO of Kooth, said: “We knew the distressing impact of COVID on the UK’s mental health. As an NHS-commissioned service to provide mental health early intervention and prevention support across the country, Kooth’s data provides a barometer into the issues that are on the rise within the wider population.
“Two solutions are clear if we are to protect the nation’s mental health from the fallout from COVID.
“First, we need to broaden access to mental healthcare, and this must include 24/7 digital access.
“Second, we need early intervention to arrest some of the alarming emerging trends in areas like self-harm, motivation and eating.”
Other statistics from the platform showed concerning trends in eating disorders, with one in 12 young people now having difficulties in this area. The same group also showed they are having difficulties with sleep and motivation.
Ethnic minorities were another demographic hit hard by the pandemic, with cases of anxiety up by 12 per cent compared to 2019.
Kooth is one of the UK’s leading mental health platforms, providing its users with helpful articles, discussion boards, live text chats with trained team members as well as offering four separate services for different people.
This is just one of a number of software that is looking to help people with their mental health, such as Hidden Strength which is offering free 24/7 access to therapists for the 3.3 million young people in the UK.
FrogSystems is a similar platform that uses the power of storytelling to help those struggling and recently featured in Health Tech World’s top five technologies that are changing the mental health landscape.
Sir Norman Lamb, chair of Kooth Advisory Board, continued: “Digital mental health platforms are now providing necessary and vital support to the NHS.
“The problems are clear: we need to address the increase in demand for mental health support, workforce shortages in the health sector, and the digital wants and needs of our population.
“It is, and continues to be, vital that we widen accessibility to effective digital mental health services and offer access to high quality interventions.”