One in three Covid patients has PTSD. This is no joke – Liberal Article
Before I begin this article, if you have a minute then take some time to look up Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Four in 100 people have it. Considering that eight in 100 people have anxiety, it is more common than you might expect. Take some time to learn what you could do to help someone with PTSD. It might be a friend, partner, parents or someone on a night out. It would only take a few seconds and could seriously help them. This is a good starting place.
A study by the University of Imperial College London and the University of Southampton, looking at over 13,000 Covid patients, found that one in every three COVID-19 patients on ventilators suffer from PTSD. This was followed by one in five having flashbacks if they were simply in the hospital receiving treatment, let alone having to be on a ventilator.
Unfortunately, this finding was not brought to the attention of the media. Only a few newspapers barely printing an article on it. However, this really highlights two major problems. Firstly, and obviously, COVID-19 is as big as we think. Deaths are one thing, but the long-lasting effects of having it are being felt by millions of those who recovered. This is not the flu. Nor, is it a cold. It is ruining people’s lives every day and we need to remember that.
For most readers of POI, this statement will merely be common sense. Unfortunately, this next part is usually forgotten; PTSD is serious. How many times has PTSD been mentioned in a jokey way? A heavy night of drinking? ‘I have PTSD over that evening’. An embarrassing story? ‘Don’t, that gives me PTSD!’. Maybe something as simple as being killed on a Call of Duty game. We have all done it and, I won’t lie, I have been guilty of it myself.
Now, before someone jumps on the bandwagon and goes ‘it’s just a joke, relax,’ I understand that. This isn’t my problem. The problem is that PTSD is becoming second fiddle to many other mental health problems. Anxiety and Depression are finally starting to be taken seriously in this modern-day age. This is likely one of the only positives to come out of COVID-19. It has helped bring the mental health conversation to the forefront of people’s minds. It is now more ‘acceptable’ to embrace your mental health problems. But other mental health problems are not being taken seriously. I fear PTSD is becoming the joke that we don’t take seriously.
PTSD is not the only mental health problem that gets forgotten. I am not saying that it deserves any special treatment. What is important is that PTSD deserves the same amount of attention that all other illnesses receive. People with PTSD need support as well.
This is not the first time that POI has criticised the UK’s failure to help people with mental health issues. However, after lockdown, the UK’s mental health could be at its lowest. Support is needed now more than ever. The UK government must supply the necessary funds to the NHS to help deal with this problem.
Both the Police and its Department for Work and Pensions must also take this into account. The UK police are poorly equipped to deal with those who have mental health problems. Furthermore, the Department for Work and Pensions is constantly attacking those with mental health problems, describing them unfit for work even when they are perfectly positioned to work.
There are 3,000 people on ventilators. That is 1,000 new cases. The UK needs to be prepared for this spike. But we also need to be ready to help people, especially those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress.
Written by Senior Liberal Writer, Max Anderson
Point of Information
Don’t forget about the NHS! – A Conservative Response
COVID-19 has indeed led to a rise in mental health awareness, not just in the UK but across the world. It has raised the issue high on everyone’s watchlist.
However, as Max rightly points out, some mental health issues get more coverage than others. PTSD has certainly received less coverage. This, I think, is because it is seen to be something you only get if you have served in the military. This is a problem as some people who become impacted by this might not seek help because they don’t see it as PTSD.
This means this issue needs more attention. It doesn’t need overemphasising, but it needs to be brought up to the public eye. The fact that the study Max mentions above was largely ignored by the media is appalling.
Another area where PTSD and other mental health are going to become bigger issues is for the staff of the NHS.
The British Medical Association (BMA) released a report in May outlining ten recommendations for a long term mental health strategy. Some points it included are encouraging peer support, the equal provision of services across the country, and suicide prevention.
Over April and May, the BMA’s own mental health services saw a 40% rise in their use. No doubt this has either risen or stayed at similar levels over the past few months.
A study done by the University of Birmingham in June and July showed that almost a quarter (24.5%) of NHS staff had experienced symptoms of PTSD. A third (34.3%) have experienced anxiety, and just under a third (31.2%) have experienced depression.
What is more worrying is that what I’ve just highlighted only takes into account the first wave of COVID. I would be very worried about seeing the results if a similar study were to be done over the second peak. The report done by the BMA will no doubt need to be updated. But I think if one were to be done, it would better emphasise that the frontline staff need more than a clap.
Extra funding must be announced in the March budget to tackle mental health. What was announced in November was good, but the fact that this pandemic has dragged on even longer means that more people are suffering as a result.
The UK government must also do more than just fund extra cash because throwing money at mental health isn’t going to solve it. It is simply too big and too complex of an issue.
Written by Senior Conservative Writer, Kieran Burt
Long-term systemic change is needed to curb PTSD – A Labour Response
I completely agree with both Max’s and Kieran’s points. As I’ve discussed before, both our government and our society’s attitude to mental health and the care provided is atrocious.
I dread to think about the state of our nation’s mental health. I especially dread the impacts on our frontline workers who have been picking up the slack of the government. Not for the first time, the government has completely neglected our care workers, our NHS staff, our teachers, and others.
Care workers and NHS staff have been learning on the job as they try to battle COVID-19. Teachers have had the job of educating children through a computer, without training, and without ever having a clear idea of what is happening with schools in the near future. Obviously, no one can be sure of what will happen next. But having to deal with ever-changing lesson formats and confused children adds another level of stress to teacher’s jobs that the vast majority of us don’t have to face.
These sectors have been put under excessive pressure, even before Covid-19. The NHS has been plagued by funding cuts and staffing shortages. This has resulted in mental health being the main reason for taking a leave of absence in the NHS, culminating in the loss of 4.2 million workdays between December 2017 and November 2018.
Similarly, roughly 80% of care workers face extremely stressful situations that negatively impact their mental health. Let’s not forget that this is all for pay that doesn’t even cover bills of 51.4% of the workforce. Likewise, a 2019 study found that 70% of teachers reported mental health issues as a result of stresses caused by workloads, budget cuts, and class sizes.
All this demonstrates the dire circumstances faced by key support workers before Covid-19. This will be significantly worse in the next years, perhaps decades. I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of PTSD cases in frontline workers escalates due to the extreme stress and anxiety they have been placed under for years now. We have to start taking PTSD seriously or millions will be suffering in silence.
We need more money to be channelled into mental health care, more support given to frontline workers, and perhaps most importantly, systemic change that improves the long-term quality of these job sectors. The original Clap for Carers in the first lockdown was obviously well-intentioned. But is it is now being championed by politicians who would rather engage the nation in an empty gesture instead of tangibly supporting our “Heroes”. This has to change.
Written by Junior Labour Writer, Zoë Olsen-Groome