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Locked down and drinking? Are more people self-identifying as having mental health difficulties alongside their drinking via an online platform?

Locked down and drinking? Are more people self-identifying as having mental health difficulties... The purpose of this paper is to offer a viewpoint on the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on people’s engagement with an online alcohol service in the UK. This paper examines whether self-reported mental health concerns increased during the pandemic compared to pre-pandemic times.Design/methodology/approachA comparison was made between service data captured in one contract area – West Sussex, England – pre-pandemic (April 2019 to March 2020) and during pandemic (April 2020 to March 2021).FindingsSelf-reported mental health treatment needs increased during the pandemic period (71.2% of presentations compared to 50% pre-pandemic) via the online coaching service. Male referrals increased by 74% during the pandemic period compared to the previous year. Female referrals decreased by 4% in the same time period. Feelings of shame and guilt as well as loss of a confidential space to engage in online interventions were common concerns reported by service users.Research limitations/implicationsResearch limitations include the relatively small sample size, the sample comprised of self-referred treatment seeking clients, and there was no control group. All data collected is self-report therefore subjective and not necessarily meeting diagnostic criteria.Practical implicationsOf note was the impact of the pandemic on women and their reduced access to the online service during the pandemic. Commissioners and services must adapt their service design and delivery alongside the new “normal” way of living and working. Routine screening of mental health and alcohol use are recommended.Originality/valueThis paper offers insight from an established online/digital service and the impact of the pandemic on people’s engagement with the service. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Advances in Dual Diagnosis Emerald Publishing

Locked down and drinking? Are more people self-identifying as having mental health difficulties alongside their drinking via an online platform?

Advances in Dual Diagnosis , Volume 14 (3): 8 – Aug 10, 2021

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
1757-0972
DOI
10.1108/add-02-2021-0005
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to offer a viewpoint on the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on people’s engagement with an online alcohol service in the UK. This paper examines whether self-reported mental health concerns increased during the pandemic compared to pre-pandemic times.Design/methodology/approachA comparison was made between service data captured in one contract area – West Sussex, England – pre-pandemic (April 2019 to March 2020) and during pandemic (April 2020 to March 2021).FindingsSelf-reported mental health treatment needs increased during the pandemic period (71.2% of presentations compared to 50% pre-pandemic) via the online coaching service. Male referrals increased by 74% during the pandemic period compared to the previous year. Female referrals decreased by 4% in the same time period. Feelings of shame and guilt as well as loss of a confidential space to engage in online interventions were common concerns reported by service users.Research limitations/implicationsResearch limitations include the relatively small sample size, the sample comprised of self-referred treatment seeking clients, and there was no control group. All data collected is self-report therefore subjective and not necessarily meeting diagnostic criteria.Practical implicationsOf note was the impact of the pandemic on women and their reduced access to the online service during the pandemic. Commissioners and services must adapt their service design and delivery alongside the new “normal” way of living and working. Routine screening of mental health and alcohol use are recommended.Originality/valueThis paper offers insight from an established online/digital service and the impact of the pandemic on people’s engagement with the service.

Journal

Advances in Dual DiagnosisEmerald Publishing

Published: Aug 10, 2021

Keywords: Dual diagnosis; Alcohol; Mental health; Stigma; Online intervention

References