"I'm delighted to share our Mindometer report, based on a survey of nearly 5,000 of our members. The report assesses the immediate and future impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of clients and BACP members, based on professional first-hand experiences. 

"We’ve examined how our therapists have worked in the past 15 months and how this might shape the future of therapy. We’ve explored whether the issues clients are presenting within therapy sessions have shifted since the start of the pandemic.

"We've looked at the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of our members themselves and what the potential long-term impact of lockdown will be on the UK’s mental health – and it’s clear from our research that the impact of the last year will reverberate for some time to come.

"I’ve no doubt that the findings presented will highlight the importance of therapeutic support from highly-trained and qualified therapists who’ve spent the last year getting to grips with the huge mental health challenges facing the general population. The skills, expertise and resilience of BACP therapists over the last year has undoubtedly changed lives.” said Hadyn Williams, BACP Chief Executive Officer.

Key findings from the report...

The future of therapy:

  • more than half (51%) of the therapists surveyed think we'll continue to see the impact of COVID-19 on people’s mental health for up to five years, while a further third (36%) thinks the impact could last for more than five years
  • 77% of respondents say there'll be increased demand for therapy post COVID-19
  • 91% of therapists confirmed that they'll continue working with clients via video and audio post-pandemic
  • 80% of the respondents report that demand for therapy is full or over capacity at the service where they work - with more than half of these (56%) reporting that this has resulted in a waiting list or referral to other services

Issues brought to therapy since the pandemic:

The top three issues that therapists have indicated seeing an increase in since the start of the pandemic are: anxiety (87%), stress or feeling overwhelmed (82%) and loneliness or social isolation (72%). 

  • almost half (46%) of therapists say incidences of trauma have increased
  • a quarter (26%) of therapists have seen an increase in eating disorders
  • two-thirds (65%) of therapists have seen an increase in relationship pressures and breakdowns
  • a quarter (26%) of therapists have seen an increase in obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

The effects of lockdown:

  • 71% of therapists have seen an increase in the number of inquiries or referrals for their services since the start of the pandemic, of which 47% have reported an increase in the number of sessions from existing clients and 65% an increase in clients presenting with complex needs
  • re-entry anxiety is something clients are experiencing and seems more prevalent than Long-COVID-related mental health issues – at 87% and 45%, respectively
  • 57% of therapists have also seen a positive impact on mental health

The impact on therapists themselves: 

  • nearly half (44%) of therapists feel more stressed and overwhelmed since the beginning of the pandemic
  • 82% of therapists have found that therapy is more accessible and this is a positive or rewarding experience of working remotely
  • the majority of therapists (80%) say they have upskilled and developed additional skills

Key recommendations from the report...

BACP’s priority, to meet this demand and ensure that anyone struggling with their mental health and wellbeing can access a qualified therapist, is to widen access to therapy through a range of settings – such as the NHS, schools and workplaces – across all four nations of the UK. The recommendations in the report include:

  1. counselling and psychotherapy need to be integral in the UK Governments’ long-term mental health response to COVID-19
  2. greater investment to increase access to therapy and access to a wider choice of therapies on the NHS and in community settings in all four nations of the UK
  3. a counsellor for every secondary school, college and academy in England
  4. increasing access to counselling through workplaces
  5. increasing access to counselling for under-represented communities

Hear from our members...

This past year has been increasingly difficult for individuals to manage their anxiety and low mood. My clients have experienced anxiety related to job loss, redundancy and furlough.

Anthony Davis

Social groups and activities that people relied on for connection may still be dormant, exam results are still uncertain, event and travel plans are precarious. People are fearful about jobs and businesses.

Louise Tyler

Anxiety is rooted in fear and uncertainty about the future. COVID-19 has dramatically amplified such feelings. In the short term, we all worried about our health and that of our loved ones, but it doesn’t end with vaccination.

Denise Freeman