GPs are becoming ‘increasingly worried’ about the lasting impact of Covid-19, with a surge in mental health issues ‘imminent’, RCGPNI has said.
Patients are expected to begin returning to practices with ‘new or exacerbated mental health problems’, including anxiety and depression.
This will have been fuelled by issues such as redundancies, isolation, alcohol abuse, domestic violence and disrupted grief processes, the college said.
It urged primary care, ‘which is again shouldering a significant amount of work’ in the NHS already, to ensure it ‘does not ignore the psychological impact’ of the coronavirus pandemic on communities.
RCGPNI chair Dr Laurence Dorman said: ‘The psychological ramifications will be long-lasting even after the lockdown has ended, and during Mental Health Awareness Week, we want to reassure our patients suffering from the mental effects of the pandemic to get in touch with their GP.’
Last week, the Royal College Of Psychiatrists forecasted a ‘tsunami’ in mental health illness after lockdown, following a 45% dip in the number of routine psychiatry appointments and a 43% increase in urgent and emergency cases.
Responding to the figures in Parliament this week, Baroness Tyler called on the Government to commit to investing in a ‘world-class mental health response to Covid-19’ and to establish support services for NHS staff, ‘mirroring the services available to our armed service personnel’.
As of last week, almost 600 general practice staff were signed up to a psychological wellbeing service set up by NHS England.
Also, a mental health service for doctors saw demand for support build since the beginning of the pandemic.