Psychiatrist gives free mental health appointments to NHS workers amid concerns over lockdown anxiety

Dr Mark Silvert, The Blue Tree Clinic. Picture: Dr Mark Silvert

Dr Mark Silvert, The Blue Tree Clinic. Picture: Dr Mark Silvert - Credit: Archant

A private psychiatrist is giving free mental health appointments to NHS staff working on the coronavirus frontline.

Dr Mark Silvert, of Swiss Cottage and whose Blue Tree Clinic is set to open in South Hampstead later this year, is offering pro bono digital appointments to NHS workers amid a “sky-rocketing” of mental health problems.

Many of the practice’s staff also work for the NHS and Dr Silvert says his team are keen to support the national effort.

The consultant psychiatrist said: “A lot of us have been trained by the NHS so we thought the best way of giving back would be to provide pro-bono appointments to Camden residents, especially NHS staff and essential workers who can face long waits to be seen at the moment.”

Last month, the NHS started providing mental health therapy and counselling to its staff to manage the psychological impact of working during the pandemic.

Normally, appointments and therapy at the Blue Tree Clinic can cost hundreds of pounds.

But Dr Silvert says NHS capacity for mental health is squeezed at the moment with resources diverted to Covid-19.

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He continued: “We thought better than disbanding at this time and saying the company is temporarily closed, we should use our hundreds of years of experience between our staff – from medical to therapy to nutritionists – and say let’s give NHS workers our support because at the moment mental health is sky-rocketing.”

Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics showed almost half of people in Britain suffered from high anxiety as the lockdown began, along with a sharp fall in people’s happiness.

Dr Silvert said: “This coronavirus pandemic is making everyone’s mental health worse so demand is going to be exponential – a bit like the virus.

“It really is going to be exponential because there are so many people having breakdowns over anxiety, fear, loss of security, jobs – and that’s often people who didn’t have pre-existing mental health conditions.

“By working from home and offering digital appointments over video link we’re still able to deliver appointments, post out prescriptions and write reports to GPs, so we feel we are putting that to good use during this time of national emergency.”

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