THE country is gripped by a worsening mental health crisis.

On a national level, psychiatrists prepared for a surge in demand for mental health care ahead of the second lockdown.

Several weeks in, the second stint of strict restrictions has served to stoke further uncertainty for the UK population economically, socially and emotionally.

Two weeks ago, the Royal College of Psychiatrists said its 18,000 members were concerned about a noticeable rise in the number of people attending emergency departments and putting themselves forward to crisis mental health services.

Dr Adrian James, the organisation’s president, said: “We’re seeing an increase in the numbers, but also in the severity of their disorder and this is a common thing that is being reported up and down the country.”

Closer to home, mental health charity Mid and North East Essex Mind offers counselling services across Colchester and Tendring.

The organisation said it is seeing a month-on-month increase in the number of people using its crisis cafés, which provide a safe and supportive space for people experiencing mental health difficulties.

Access to this service is made on referral from the NHS and is for people going through a particularly difficult time.

The charity’s waiting lists now stands at four weeks and it is anticipated demand will rise still further as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

A spokesman said: “In Essex, depression and anxiety due to Covid-19 is expected to double over the coming months, leading to four in ten people being affected.

“Over the last three months we have received in excess of 600 referrals.”

The charity is appealing for help to make sure its services can meet this rising need to tackle a pandemic of an altogether different kind.

Julie Arthur, fundraising and marketing manager, added: “It is difficult to pinpoint any particular issues people are experiencing during the second lockdown, but the pandemic itself is certainly a cause of stress and anxiety for many people.

“Here at Mid and North East Essex Mind we believe no-one should have to face a mental health problem alone.

“Which is why we are launching these three fundraising events, not only to ensure we can continue to provide these vital services but also to engage with people during these difficult times.

“Being part of something and gaining a sense of achievement as well as undertaking some physical activity are all good for everyone’s mental health.”

As demand rises, fundraising which the charity typically relies upon is falling away amid tough social distancing restrictions.

So Mid and North East Essex Mind is launching its Something for Everyone campaign in a bid to rally support and engage people in activities to keep the mind healthy.

The campaign comprises three fundraising activities for people to take part in.

The first, 12ks of Christmas, encourages people to walk, jog or run 12 kilometres in the build up to the big day.

The entry cost is £12, which allows for sponsorship by friends, family and colleagues.

Participants who sent in a screenshot of their tracked 12k will be entered into a prize draw for a Christmas hamper donated by Poplar Nurseries.

The second event, mental elf hunt, encourages children to get out and about to look for the charity’s ten elves, hidden around Colchester town centre and Braintree Shopping Village.

Entrants should send in a completed clue sheet for the chance to win a prize donated by Ace Comics. Entry costs £5.

The final activity, the fire walk, takes place on February 27 at Colchester United Community Stadium.

Entry to this scorching challenge costs £30, with participants asked to raise £100 in sponsorship.

For more information about the fire walk and other events, and to register, visit

A spokesman said: “There should be something to engage all age groups and abilities and at the same time raise valuable funds for your local mental health charity.

“Our services are needed more than ever before and we believe that no one should face a mental health problem alone.”