District of Preston has one of England's highest rates of depression

Charity fears parts of the country are experiencing a mental health crisis

Friday, 7th May 2021, 3:45 pm

Ribbleton in Preston has one of the highest rates of depression in the country.

Charity Mind said England is facing a "mental health pandemic" and called for a stronger approach from the Government to tackle the widening inequalities in care.

Analysis of NHS estimates by the House of Commons Library shows 14.4 per cent of adult GP patients across Preston had a diagnosis of depression in 2019-20.

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Ribbleton has one of England's highest rates of depression

This was higher than the 11.5 per cent national average, though it varied significantly between the 17 areas in Preston.

The rate reached 20.2 per cent in Ribbleton, which was one of the highest of the 6,800 small areas in England with results.

At the other end of the scale was Moor Park where 10.4 per cent of patients were depressed.

Brinnington, in Stockport, had the highest rate nationally, with 27 per cent, while less than four per cent were depressed in parts of Westminster.

Mind said bereavement, isolation, and the economic recession mean the nation is now facing a "mental health pandemic", and that a strategic approach from the Government is needed.

Vicki Nash, head of policy and campaigns at the charity, said: "This strategy must focus specifically on communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic, including racialised communities and young people.

"It must address widening inequalities, sort out our woefully underfunded social care system, fund public health, and make sure the education system supports young people’s wellbeing.

“It’s important that no matter where you live, you are able to get the support you need when you need it."

New figures from the Office for National Statistics show one in five adults experienced depressive symptoms between January and March – more than double the year before.

Recent research from Mind found that the lack of face-to-face support caused by the pandemic has been particularly hard for those with severe mental health problems such as psychosis and schizophrenia.

The House of Commons Library data shows that 1.3 per cent of patients across Preston were diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other psychoses last year.

These were highest in Preston Town Centre, where 1.6 per cent had a diagnosis, while in two areas it was one per cent.

Researchers warned that variation across the country might reflect differences in the way GPs record health conditions, as well as genuine variation in prevalence.

The Mental Health Foundation said bullying, particularly within gang culture, is one of the key triggers for being diagnosed with schizophrenia – and is often higher in poorer areas.

Dr David Crepaz-Keay, head of applied learning at the organisation, said the gap between rich and poor is only likely to widen post-pandemic.

He added: "If we want to reduce those mental health inequalities then we have to start to prioritise actions against some of these social determinants.

"We also need to get better at providing support to people who are victims of these events as part of our mental health response.

"We can’t treat our way out of this, we have to rebuild our communities back properly."

The charity organises the annual Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from May 10-16 this year.

The Government said it is providing an additional £2.3bn a year by 2023-24 for mental health services.

A government spokeswoman added: “Hundreds of billions have been spent to help those most in need throughout the pandemic, safeguarding jobs, boosting welfare support, raising the living wage and introducing the £269m Covid Local Support Grant to help children and families stay well-fed.”