Mental health in Sheffield: study into hidden pandemic reveals why people don’t ask for help and support

More than two in five people in South Yorkshire are showing signs of depression or anxiety, a new survey about mental health reveals.

By Robert Cumber
Wednesday, 9th March 2022, 6:46 am

Yet one in four say they would delay seeking professional care by at least six months if faced with mental health difficulties which significantly affected their day-to-day functioning.

The figures reveal the scale of mental health problems in South Yorkshire and nationally, and show how many people are reluctant to get the help they need.

Official figures show that rates of depression have doubled in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, and new research which has been shared exclusively with The Star reveals the reasons vary from community to community.

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A new survey reveals how many people in South Yorkshire are struggling with their mental health yet are unwilling to seek the help they need (file pic: rawpixel.com / Teddy Rawpixel)

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The study by the non-profit Surgo Ventures, funded partly by the UK government, involved a survey of more than 17,000 people across all parts of the country.

The research reveals that:

One in three showed signs of possible depression or anxiety;

One in five would delay seeking professional care by at least six months;

The most common barrier to seeking care was a ‘dislike of talking about my feelings, emotions or thoughts’.

The reasons for not seeking help varied across the country, with concerns about the financial costs of mental illness being more common in the home counties, while people in Yorkshire were more likely to dislike opening up about their feelings.

In the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System, 42 per cent of respondents met the threshold that warranted further clinical assessment for either depression or anxiety.

Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) said they do not believe that, or know if, depression or anxiety are mental illnesses.

And 26 per cent said they would delay more than six months, or never seek care, if they were to face mental health difficulties that significantly affected their day-to-day functioning in the future.

The biggest factor discouraging people from seeking care was a ‘dislike of talking about my feelings, emotions or thoughts’, which one in five of those surveyed gave as a reason.

The findings have been used to build the UK Mental Health Data Explorer, designed to help health chiefs in towns and cities across the country tackle the specific barriers to care in their own areas, from stigma to practical worries.

Surgo Ventures’ CEO and co-founder Dr Sema K Sgaier said: “The fact that one in five people would suffer silently with mental health difficulties is a shocking reflection of barriers to mental health care in the UK.

“What also stood out was how widely the reasons varied from community to community.

“Health leaders who want to encourage people to seek care will need to pursue tailored, hyper-local strategies for it to work.

“And our data can help provide these leaders with a roadmap on what to do in their communities.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Health and Social Care said it was launching a ‘national conversation’ as it works to develop a new long-term mental health strategy later this year.

If you are affected by the issues raised, you can call The Mind Infoline on 0300 123 3393 or email [email protected] can also call Samaritans on 116 123 or email [email protected] the Rethink Mental Illness Advice Line is available on 0808 801 0525 or via its web chat service at https://www.rethink.org/aboutus/what-we-do/advice-and-information-service/.