Drug-related mental health admissions in Sunderland more than double
Hospital admissions in Sunderland for patients with drug-related mental health issues have more than doubled in the last four years.
Charities have said this shows people are more candid with doctors about substance abuse, as well as difficulty accessing rehab services.
Between April 2017 and March 2018, there were 615 admissions for mental illnesses or behaviour disorders where the main cause or a contributing factor was drugs.
According to the latest NHS England figures, that is a rise of 114% from four years ago, when these records began.
A spokesman for Sunderland City Council said in response to the figures that preventing drug abuse is among one of the city’s “key priorities”.
Of Sunderland’s 615 admissions, 465 were men and 150 were women. Drugs tended to be a contributing factor for mental health issues, rather than the main cause. There were 80 cases where they were diagnosed as the primary reason for behaviour disorders.
These figures only indicate the number of admissions, not patients. They could include one patient who has been to hospital several times over the year.
Across England, there was a 27% rise in drug related admissions over the last four years.
The rate of drug related mental health admissions in Sunderland is 233 per 100,000 people, the same as the North East on average.
The figures also show the number of admissions for patients who have overdosed on illegal drugs, such as ecstasy or heroin.
From April 2017 to March 2018 there were 55 admissions, a slight decrease of three cases, on the previous year.
Compared with four years ago there has been a 4% decrease in hospital admissions for illegal drugs overdoses.
A spokesman for Sunderland City Council said: “Preventing drug abuse and improving mental health are key priorities for our city.
“One in four people can expect to suffer from a mental health problem in any given year and one of the most important preventative measures is to talk about it.
“There are services, advice and support to help anyone who is misusing drugs and also for anyone who may be experiencing mental health issues. Please use these services if you need them.”
Lucy Schonegevel, from Rethink Mental Illness, said: “This is yet another piece of evidence in an ever-growing list showing the pressure that NHS services are facing in treating people with mental ill health.
“The reasons behind this increase will be numerous and complex. We hear from our supporters about the difficulties that they face accessing services when they have a combination of mental health and drug issues.
“Services for people with mental illness, and services for people with substance misuse problems, are funded and provided by completely different organisations. Sadly, this can mean that people often fall through gaps in the system.”
Steve Moffatt, of the public health charity Addaction, said the increase could be due to improved recording practices in hospitals and “a greater willingness among people in general to admit to a history of substance use”.
“These are both positive developments and we encourage anything that helps people be open and honest without fear of judgement,” he said.
“It’s essential that people feel able to disclose a substance issue and ask for help.
“The statistics show a significant north versus south divide. In both the North East and North West, hospital admissions in this category are 50% higher than the national rate.”