Mental health ‘ticking time bomb’ set to explode as third lockdown bites, experts warn

THE THIRD national coronavirus lockdown has created a "ticking time bomb" when it comes to mental health, experts have warned.

People across the country have once again been told to "stay at home" as Covid cases continue to surge across the country.

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While stay at home orders are in place to protect people from the virus, experts say they can also be detrimental to mental health and wellbeing.

A recent paper published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) analysed a plethora of studies regarding mental health and the pandemic.

It found that in some places, suicides had increased towards the back end of 2020, with lower levels being seen at the start of the pandemic.

The paper states: "Trends in certain groups may be hidden when looking at overall rates, and the National Child Mortality Database has identified a concerning signal that deaths by suicide among under 18s may have increased during the first phase of lockdown in the UK."

Experts today warned that young people are struggling to cope with the impacts lockdowns are having.

Speaking to MailOnline Emma Thomas, Chief Executive at YoungMinds said: "The pandemic is deepening the crisis in young people's mental health and there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that the impact could be significant and long-term.

"Young people tell us that they've struggled to cope with the changes and loss of coping mechanisms brought on by the pandemic, with many experiencing social isolation, anxiety, and fears around their future.

'Many lost access to mental health support during the first lockdown, while others chose not to look for help at a time when the NHS was under so much pressure."

She added that with the pandemic continuing through the winter it's likely that more people will struggle to cope.

This is while one expert warned that people with depression, anxiety and other disorders will be hit hardest.

Elizabeth O'Shea, child behaviour expert said: "The pandemic has created a mental health ticking time bomb."


Since lockdown started in March, suicide helplines have seen an uptick in calls.

Samaritans has had more than a million calls with Brits and data from Mind suggests that half of Brits felt their mental health had got worse in 2020 as a result of the pandemic.

Earlier this year it was also reported that male suicide rates in England and Wales have reached a 20 year high.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) stated that in 2019 there were 5,691 suicides registered which equates to around 11 deaths per 100,000 of the population.

You’re Not Alone

EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide.

It doesn't discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.

It's the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.

And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.

Yet it's rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.

That is why The Sun launched the You're Not Alone campaign.

The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.

Let's all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others… You're Not Alone.

If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:

  • CALM,, 0800 585 858
  • Heads Together,
  • Mind,, 0300 123 3393
  • Papyrus,, 0800 068 41 41
  • Samaritans,, 116 123
  • Movember,

Every 90 minutes a life is lost to suicide in the UK, which is why The Sun previously launed the You’re Not Alone campaign to remind anyone facing a tough time, grappling with mental illness or feeling like there's nowhere left to turn, that there is hope.

The ONS data does not include 2020 figures. However it did state that there were 6.9 suicide deaths per 100,000 people in England between April and June this year.

It added that the low number of suicide deaths registered during this period was probably due to inquests being delayed because of the Covid-19 outbreak.

But what can you do if you think a loved one is suffering? Here are the 7 signs that your loved one is at risk.

1. Change in routine

The coronavirus pandemic is constantly evolving.

One week we are under a tier system and the next we are back into full lockdown.

Children will now be learning from home once more and with the kids around the house it's likely that you'll be able to spot if loved ones are changing their routine.

This could mean that they are eating less or more than normal or even skipping meals.

Others may change how often and when they sleep.

2. Being withdrawn

Some people find it hard to communicate if they are feelng depressed and because of this they may become withdrawn.

Your loved one could stop talking to you or become less affectionate towards you.

They may also struggle to hold conversations and may seem to lose interest in what you have to say.

3. Losing interest in their appearance

If your loved one is feeling depressed they may start to lose interest in the way they look.

Some people may feel as though there is "no point" in making an effort or looking nice.

This is due to the feeling that they don't matter, so quite often they may push their self care needs back.

4. Putting themselves down

A common trait of someone who is feeling depressed is to belittle themselves.

This could be by chastising themselves for their behaviour or their work.

But they could also put themselves down for the way they look.

5. Not wanting to do things they enjoy

The pandemic had meant that many of us are unable to do the things we love.

Ever changing restrictions mean that it's hard to keep up with activities.

Many people enjoying exercising as a form of relaxation and with gyms closed it means this is no longer an outlet for some.

The lockdown means that we will be doing more activities at home such as reading or watching our favourite shows, we can also go outside with one other person to exercise.

If your loved one is behaving withdrawn and isn't doing things they enjoy then this could be a sign that they are depressed.

6. Being irritable

Sometimes when people are depressed they find it hard to think about anything else – this makes everything else seem insigificant to them.

If your loved one is snapping at your or is getting annoyed at small things then try and ask them how they are feeling.

If they don't feel comfortable talking to you about these issues then there are online tools and help lines available where they will be able to talk to people.

7. Finding it hard to cope with everyday life

Tasks such as work can often feel mundane or labourous for people who are feeling depressed.

Simple acts like doing the laundry may seem labourous if you loved one is feeling depressed.

Recent studies have also found that men might be more at risk of experiencing suicidal thoughts than women.

Research from Mind found that men generally feel more able to seek help than they did ten years ago.

However those with current worries are relying on coping mechanisms such as booze and drugs.

The study found that 13 per cent are relying on booze alone, compared to nine per cent 10 years ago.

Four per cent are relying on recreational drugs, up from one per cent 10 years ago.

Despite this, the research found that men are now almost three times as likely to see a therapist if they feel worried or low.

Both women and men are also 35 per cent more likely to see a GP if they are down.

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