Around 38,000 Islington residents at risk of depression caused by the pandemic, council report finds

The pandemic had claimed the lives of 391 residents by mid-October

An estimated 38,000 Islington residents could be at risk of depression because of the impact of Covid, according to a Town Hall report.

It is thought that 12,052 young people aged under 25 could be affected, with those who were shielding and bereaved by the pandemic most at risk.

The modelling predicts there could be as many as 38,671 new cases of depression in the borough – an increase of 22 per cent.

There might also be a 16 per cent rise in the number of residents suffering from moderate to severe anxiety, with 28,266 new cases predicted.

Fears of contracting the virus and worries about health and jobs have affected many people, a health scrutiny investigation into the inequalities of the pandemic found.

The pandemic had claimed the lives of 391 Islington residents by mid-October, with more dying in the second wave between September last year and this April.

Although ethnicity is not recorded on death certificates, GP and hospital data show that Black and Asian residents are more likely to have died.

Islington Council’s executive member for health and social care Nurullah Turan said 500 community workers have been given bereavement awareness training to help support residents and colleagues.

By July this year, 1,627 residents had been admitted to hospital with Covid, with more Black and Asian residents suffering from the virus. It also hit more over-55s and men.

There has also been an increase in mental health support in schools to help people during the pandemic and beyond.

Last October, the majority of Islington residents participating in a Camden and Islington public health survey said they were somewhat or very concerned about the virus.

Over a quarter said they were worried about the impact on their mental health and it was their biggest concern.

One unnamed resident described how the pandemic hit them hard: “I had a couple of breakdowns, really bad breakdowns. I started crying, I literally locked myself away in a room for six months.”

They added: “I wasn’t talking to anyone. I literally just switched off.”

According to council modelling, the fourth wave of Covid could bring trauma, mental illness, economic harm and burnout which could last well after the pandemic dissipates.

Health bosses are planning for the kind of support people might need over the next few years.

The borough “is the biggest investor in mental health in te country”, according to health bosses.

Islington’s acting head of public health Jonathan O’Sullivan said mental health recovery after the pandemic is important, “ranging from more individual support for people with complex mental health problems through public mental health programmes, including tackling social isolation and anxiety”.

The council is also looking at wider health impacts from long Covid which persist beyond 12 weeks of infection. They can include fatigue, breathlessness, aches and sleep disturbance. It is estimated that 2,788 people in Islington could be affected but the diagnosis rates are far lower.

O’Sullivan said it could mean “many people may be unaware of sources of support”.

More children in Islington are affected by deprivation than anywhere else in London, with 28 per living in families with low incomes.

The borough also has London’s fourth highest level of income deprivation among the over-60s, with 34 per cent of them on a low income.

According to a council health scrutiny report into the wider impacts of the pandemic on education and employment, Black, Asian and other ethnic minority residents are disproportionately affected, along with those with physical, learning difficulties or sensory impairments and carers.

A “significantly higher” number of Black and Asian residents told the survey that personal or household finances was one of the biggest worries caused by the pandemic compared to white residents.

Concern over children’s education was also twice as high for Black and Asian residents than for people from white backgrounds.