Lost in lockdown: ‘Coronavirus won’t kill me – being alone will’

With much of her paid work having dried up during lockdown unable to meet clients face to face, she has insetad been working for much of the past year on a voluntary basis to offer what support she can.

Her clients, she says, are right across the board and from all socio-economic groups, but the rising mental health crisis is particularly pronounced among the young.

“Most are really struggling now because they haven’t had any hope for a year,” she says. “They are really struggling not being able to see friends and having those same worries for a long time with no outlet.”

While the Government has pledged an extra £2 billion a year to mental health services from 2023, campaigners argue more is needed and sooner. The charity, Mind, has warned of a second mental health pandemic brewing, with NHS data showing a “huge increase in urgent and emergency referrals for crisis care”. 

Dawn Hardman agrees. Already in the area she says waiting lists for mental health support are “outrageous”. To date nearly 17,000 people have contracted Covid-19 in Blackburn with Darwen out of a population of 149,000 with some 400 deaths.

Without urgent money poured into mental health services, she fears even this devastating toll may just be the beginning. “I very much feel the fall out in mental health is going to be costlier in every way than with Covid-19,” she says. “I hate to say that but I really feel it’s the truth.” 

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