Calls to mental health helplines in Manchester double during lockdown

Mental health helplines in Manchester say they’ve been flooded with twice as many calls since lockdown restrictions were re-imposed in the area.

Police and specialist services set up in Greater Manchester during the pandemic have been inundated with people reaching out for support since being told to isolate at home.

A total of 2,168 calls were made to the Greater Manchester Mental Health Foundation in July compared with 1,187 in April. The area has one of the worst coronavirus infection rates in the UK, with Manchester recording 47.3 cases per 100,000 people in the week of 10-16 August.

The increase in mental health calls comes as people from Oldham, Blackburn and parts of Pendle were banned from socialising with other households from midnight on Saturday, as part of a strict ‘semi-lockdown’.

The data has now led to calls for the government to adopt a different approach to local outbreaks. Leaders in the North West have demanded more clarity after claiming people are ‘confused’ about the new restrictions.

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Manchester City Council leader, Sir Richard Leese, urged Westminster to bring in a new strategy which ‘brings into play mental health and other health risks including those caused by poverty and economic activity.’

Sir Richard, who is also Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester, told The Guardian any measures should ‘allow the economy to fully function’.

Greater Manchester Police also shared how they had experienced a 42% rise in ‘mental health demand’ since February this year.

Chief Superintendant Umer Khan said: ‘We are grateful to the majority of people within Greater Manchester who have followed guidelines to help reduce the spread of Covid-19, however these restrictions have had an impact on many people’s mental health, both those with pre-existing conditions and those who have not struggled with their mental health before.

‘Police officers are often the first point of contact for people going through a mental health crisis.

‘It is important that these people have immediate access to the right help and support.

‘GMP has worked with partners to train thousands of officers in how to deal with people with various mental health conditions and help direct individuals to the support they need.’

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