OBJECTIVE: It has been widely predicted that the COVID-19 pandemic will have a detrimental impact on the mental health (MH) of individuals . This has been dubbed as the MH 'second wave' . In Australia, these impacts have been partly mitigated by institutional responses such as increased access to psychotherapy . Consultation Liaison (CL) psychiatry services provide MH care to acutely unwell patients in general hospitals . It was hypothesised that the number of referrals to the studied service had increased since the start of the pandemic .
METHODS: From the Electronic medical records (eMRs), the authors collected daily referral numbers, over 3 consecutive years, to a large CL service in metropolitan Sydney .
RESULTS: Referrals were significantly increased by 25% , 95% CI [1.14 , 1.36], p <.001 since the start of the pandemic . This increase was delayed, and remained elevated despite a reduction in COVID-19 infections .
CONCLUSION: This study adds evidence to the existence of the MH 'second wave', highlights a key impact on healthcare workers' well-being and will assist in guiding resource allocation decisions in the near future.