The Royal College of Psychiatrists says the coronavirus pandemic is the ‘biggest hit’ to England's mental health in generations and has urged the Government to address growing referral lists across the country.
NHS Digital figures show about 78,285 people in the NHS Nottinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group area were referred for a mental health appointment in 2021.
Nationally, 4.3 million people were referred for mental health care last year, up from 3.7m in 2020 and the highest number since records began.
The number of people in contact with mental health services across the country has also increased.
At the end of last year, 1.35m people were working with mental health services, up from 1.26m at the end of 2020.
About 29,045 were using mental health services in Nottinghamshire at the end of 2021, up from about 24,865 last year.
NHS England says the rise in referrals has resulted in a backlog and increase in demand for services.
In a recent report, it estimated 1.4m people eligible for mental health care across England were yet to receive it, with a further 8m deemed to benefit from accessing help if barriers preventing people from accessing care were reduced.
Dr Adrian James, college president, said government silence on the issue ‘continues to be of grave concern’ and called for a fully-funded plan to aid mental health services to deal with the backlog.
He said: “Many thousands of people will be left waiting far too long for the treatment they need unless the Government wakes up to the crisis engulfing the country.”
The Department for Health and Social Care said an extra £2.3 billion per year will be invested in mental health services by 2023-24, on top of £500m apportioned to tackle the pandemic's impact on mental health.
The number of children accessing mental health services has also increased, with more than 1m under-18s across England in contact with health professionals for the first time at the end of 2021.
Roughly 12,995 of them were in Nottinghamshire, up from about 9,910 at the end of 2020.
A DHSC spokesman said it will launch a ‘national conversation’ about mental health before publishing a long-term Mental Health Plan later this year.