Health

Senior NHS therapist likens suffering of youngsters under lockdown to horrors of WWI

Coronavirus is just as ‘traumatic’ as World War One and could reduce life expectancy by 25 years, a senior NHS therapist has warned.

The impact of lockdown and the grief of losing 113,850 people to the virus will cause a trauma ‘time-bomb’ which could see people die young, senior NHS psychological therapist Mark Rayner said.

He is calling on the Government to double its NHS mental health funding to tackle the crisis – which could cut the country’s life expectancy by 25 years.  

Mr Rayner said post-pandemic mental health is the most serious medical challenge to the nation in 100 years – since the midst of the first World War.

He said trauma-related illness common in WWI such as shell shock – now known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – are being seen nowadays in people impacted by Covid. 

Military historian Andy Robertshaw – known for the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? – agreed, telling MailOnline that while WWI had a significantly higher death toll, the UK’s  113,850 deaths is a ‘huge proportion of the population’.

Coronavirus is just as 'traumatic' as World War One (soldiers fighting in the trenches, pictured) and could reduce live expectancy by 25 years, an NHS therapist has warned

Coronavirus is just as ‘traumatic’ as World War One (soldiers fighting in the trenches, pictured) and could reduce live expectancy by 25 years, an NHS therapist has warned

The impact of lockdown (a student studying from home, pictured) and the grief of losing 113,850 people to the virus will cause a trauma 'time-bomb' which could see people die young, senior NHS psychological therapist Mark Rayner said

The impact of lockdown (a student studying from home, pictured) and the grief of losing 113,850 people to the virus will cause a trauma 'time-bomb' which could see people die young, senior NHS psychological therapist Mark Rayner said

The impact of lockdown (a student studying from home, pictured) and the grief of losing 113,850 people to the virus will cause a trauma ‘time-bomb’ which could see people die young, senior NHS psychological therapist Mark Rayner said

Mr Rayner – who works for EASE Wellbeing which provides psychotherapy services for NHS clinics – said: ‘Unless we act now to alleviate the stress, anxiety, trauma and depression young people have experienced in the last 12 months, severe long term consequences are inevitable.

‘Everyone is still trying to comprehend the 100,000 deaths figure – but the full ramifications go well beyond that and won’t end with universal vaccination. 

‘Today’s children are tomorrow’s adults and if the traumatic consequences of this pandemic are not dealt with, an entire generation will be affected for the next 40 or 50 years.

‘Sufferers can see their life expectancy reduced by as much as 25 years. 

‘There is a systemic failure in addressing the mental effects of Covid-19, particularly on young people.’

Military historian Andy Robertshaw - known for the BBC's Who Do You Think You Are? - agreed, telling MailOnline that while WWI (German prisoners in the trenches, pictured) had a significantly higher death toll, the UK's 113,850 deaths is a 'huge proportion of the population'

Military historian Andy Robertshaw - known for the BBC's Who Do You Think You Are? - agreed, telling MailOnline that while WWI (German prisoners in the trenches, pictured) had a significantly higher death toll, the UK's 113,850 deaths is a 'huge proportion of the population'

Military historian Andy Robertshaw – known for the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? – agreed, telling MailOnline that while WWI (German prisoners in the trenches, pictured) had a significantly higher death toll, the UK’s 113,850 deaths is a ‘huge proportion of the population’

He said up to four million ten to 24-year-olds could require treatment for mental health problems in the next twelve months.

Mr Rayner added: ‘The average UK life expectancy dipped between 1910 to 1920 because of the Great War and the Spanish Flu pandemic but has otherwise been rising steadily since the mid-nineteenth century – and until now reached 81.

‘World War One saw the first notions of trauma-related illness known as shell-shock but now called PTSD and specifically conditions like Gulf War Syndrome. 

‘In recent years PTSD become a diagnosis that embraces the psychological response to various forms of trauma, abuse, neglect as well as heightened anxiety or fear.

‘These same symptoms are now being experienced by individuals and families impacted by Covid.

Mr Rayner said: 'The average UK life expectancy dipped between 1910 to 1920 because of the Great War (the frontlines, pictured) and the Spanish Flu pandemic but has otherwise been rising steadily since the mid-nineteenth century - and until now reached 81'

Mr Rayner said: 'The average UK life expectancy dipped between 1910 to 1920 because of the Great War (the frontlines, pictured) and the Spanish Flu pandemic but has otherwise been rising steadily since the mid-nineteenth century - and until now reached 81'

Mr Rayner said: ‘The average UK life expectancy dipped between 1910 to 1920 because of the Great War (the frontlines, pictured) and the Spanish Flu pandemic but has otherwise been rising steadily since the mid-nineteenth century – and until now reached 81’

‘Whether the stress caused by increasing financial uncertainties or bereavement from losing loved ones, the wider effect of Covid is being felt far beyond the virus itself. 

‘There is a very real possibility life expectancy could decline for the first time in 100 years as a result’. 

Military historian Mr Robertshaw told MailOnline that relatives of World War One soldiers received letters saying their loved ones had disappeared, meaning they never got closure of a traditional funeral.

He said: ‘This is comparable [today] because we see people go away in an ambulance and we can’t be by their bedside.

‘It is the not knowing that may cause problems, the not being there. And of course the closure of a proper funeral with [more than 30] people.’ 

Another factor of the First World War is the ‘massive survivor guilt’ felt by soldiers who safely returned – which could still be felt today.

But even so, in WWI people knew ‘why their relatives had died and were willing to accept that’. 

He said the main problem with Britons’ mental health was after the war as people were ‘expected to get on with their lives’ and ‘get over it’ – which may be a concern once ‘everybody gets the vaccine’ and the country emerges from lockdown. 

Military historian Mr Robertshaw told MailOnline that relatives of World War One soldiers (some pictured) received letters saying their loved ones had disappeared, meaning they never got closure of a traditional funeral

Military historian Mr Robertshaw told MailOnline that relatives of World War One soldiers (some pictured) received letters saying their loved ones had disappeared, meaning they never got closure of a traditional funeral

Military historian Mr Robertshaw told MailOnline that relatives of World War One soldiers (some pictured) received letters saying their loved ones had disappeared, meaning they never got closure of a traditional funeral

Tahir Hussain – a consultant vascular surgeon at Northwick Park Hospital – said: ‘The mental health fall out from Covid will be felt for years – not just by front-line workers but also by the younger generation who have missed out on so many life events.’

The Children’s Commissioner has already warned that mental health services in England are struggling to cope with the impact of the pandemic on children. 

Anne Longfield, the commissioner for England, said that despite an expansion in recent years the provision of treatment for child mental health problems was already falling well short of demand.


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Bourbiza Mohamed. Writer and Political Discourse Analysis.

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