THIS year has seen a huge spike in mental health problems nationally, and Reading is no exception.

Battling an unprecedented and distressing eight months, people across the UK have found that their mental health is declining.

This is a national problem that has largely been exasperated by the lockdown itself and the unpredictability of grappling with a "new normal", as well as the looming threat of further waves of Covid-19.

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The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has today (October 27) revealed the latest data involving mental health figures, specifically the number of detentions made under the Metal Health Act.

Under this act, people with a mental disorder may be formally kept in hospital (or 'sectioned') in the interests of their own health or safety, or for the protection of other people.

They can also be treated in the community but subject to recall to hospital for assessment and/or treatment under a Community Treatment Order (CTO).

The data shows that Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has recorded 330 detentions in the 2019/20 period.

The CCG is made up of 50 member GP Practices across our Reading, West Berkshire and Wokingham - serving a population of 528,000 people.

Regional figures

ONS figures also show the total numbers across certain regions.

For this category, Reading stats are merged within Berkshire as a whole, which is also grouped with Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.

These statistics showed a shocking increase in the number of people from across these counties who were detained under the act this year.

In the 2019/20 period, a total of 1,180 people from these counties were formally detained due to their mental health - a figure which has almost doubled from the 495 recorded the year before (2018/19).

The 2017/18 period saw 745 cases across the region, and the 2016/17 data shows a total of 800.

Reading Chronicle:

National trend

These statistics are derived from the Mental Health Services Data Set (MHSDS) which reuses operational data produced by NHS and independent providers.

In 2019-20, 50,893 new detentions under the Mental Health Act were recorded nationally, but the overall totals will be higher.

This is because not all providers submitted data, and some submitted incomplete data.

Of these detentions, 32,320 took place at the point of admission to hospital, and a further 14,576 occurred following admission.

ONS also report 3,805 detentions following a place of safety order and 206 after the revocation of a CTO.

A higher proportion of detentions occurred on admission in NHS providers than independent providers (64.3 per cent compared to 35.6 per cent).

For independent providers, 63.2 per cent of detentions occurred following admission compared to 27.2 per cent in NHS facilities.

Amongst adults, detention rates tend to decline with age.

Known detention rates for the 18 to 34 age group (129.8 detentions per 100,000 population) were around 40 per cent higher than for those aged 50 to 64 (92.5 per 100,000 population).

But rates rose again for the 65+ age group (95.0 per 100,000 population).

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Mental health charity Mind has described the pandemic as "a mental health emergency."

The charity offers advice and support for anyone struggling with their mental health during this period.

This includes practical advice on coping with staying at home, tips for employers on supporting themselves and their team, and updates on how the new coronavirus laws and more.

Visit the website for more information.

There are also plenty of local organisations available which provide help to those who need it/

These include Sport in Mind, Berkshire West Your Way, Reading Samaritans and many more.

If you are suffering with mental health or suicidal thoughts, contact Samaritans on 116 123 free of charge, and at any time. For more information, visit