Mental Health and Covid-19 – The Effects of a Pandemic
The UK and the rest of the world haven’t experienced circumstances such as those caused by the Coronavirus in living memory. When some people think of the impact of the pandemic, they do so in terms of the physical and economic effects, rules and regulations, and the death toll, with less attention paid to mental health and Covid-19.
Worry, Anxiety, and Loneliness
In June 2020, the Office for National Statistics reported that 69% of adults in the UK said they were somewhat or very worried about the effect of the Coronavirus on their lives. Additionally, 63% of those surveyed said they were worried about the future, 56% said they felt anxious or stressed, and 49% said they felt bored.
Since then, the feelings of at least some adults in the UK have changed somewhat. In February 2021, a year after the coronavirus reached the UK, the Mental Health Foundation reported that pandemic-related anxiety had decreased to 42%. Feelings of loneliness, however, had increased from 10% of people surveyed in March 2020 to 26% of respondents in February this year.
The number of adults who said they were coping well with mental health and Covid-19 decreased from 73% in April 2020 to 64% in February. The percentage of people who felt hopeless about the pandemic (18%) did not change between March 2020 and February 2021, while the number of adults who said they had experienced suicidal thoughts and feelings rose from 8% in April 2020 to 13% in February this year.
Factors Influencing Mental Health
Writing for the Health Foundation, Louise Marshall, Jo Bibby, and Isabel Abbs examined several of the drivers in the matter of mental health and Covid-19. The most significant of those that led to deteriorating mental health include:
· Social isolation – Although the proportion of people in the UK (5%) who reported feeling lonely often or always during the pandemic was similar to pre-pandemic levels. However, people with poor health, those who rent their homes and working-age adults who live alone were among the groups who have been disproportionately affected by social isolation.
· Financial and job losses – According to the Mental Health Foundation, more than 33% of people in full-time employment were worried about losing their job, while almost 50% said they were concerned about not having enough food.
· Housing insecurity and quality – The foundation found that people who rent their homes experienced a greater impact on their finances during the pandemic than people who own their homes. The financial impact had the knock-on effect of increasing renters’ worries about housing security.
Some factors that determine housing quality, such as access to personal or outdoor space, also impacted mental health. For example, 12% of British households don’t have access to a shared or private garden.
"As we emerge from lockdowns, we are supporting many patients struggling with anxiety and mood problems. It can be anything including reintegrating socially or adapting to travel and work environments which have changed substantially during the pandemic. We are also seeing many patients whose access to their usual mental healthcare has been disrupted and who are wanting to regain control and direction in their lives as the country opens up." Dr James Woolley, Consultant Psychiatrist, Schoen Clinic Chelsea.
Help is Available
In June 2021, the Office for National Statistics reported that more adults in the UK are feeling positive about personal well-being, and that 95% of adults had positive sentiments about the Covid-19 vaccine. Even so, the pandemic continues to rage on – and it continues to affect mental health and well-being.
If you, your family, or your friends are struggling with mental health problems, complete a Contact Us Form, call 0203 146 2300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Schoen Clinic Chelsea offers specialised treatment for mental health conditions including one to one appointments with clinical experts and specialised day treatment programmes for adults.
*This piece was kindly reviewed by Dr James Woolley, Consultant Psychiatrist at Schoen Clinic Chelsea.