Mental health in the COVID-19 Pandemic: recommendations for prevention

The COVID-19 pandemic represents an immense challenge to UK society. In this paper we recommend policy interventions that are specific, practical and evidence-informed. 


On a population-wide basis, the negative mental health effects of the pandemic are likely to last much longer than its physical health impacts. The effects of physical distancing, social isolation, and lockdown on individual mental wellbeing, as well as the loss of a loved one, increase the mental health challenges for the UK population.

The Coronavirus: Mental Health in the Pandemic study, led by the Mental Health Foundation,1 has shown that people’s mental health is being affected by social distancing measures and their economic consequences.

Furthermore, the mental health effects are falling unequally across society, with people in some social groups bearing much more of the mental health burden than others. These effects are likely to deepen during the pandemic and its aftermath. But there is also cause for hope. While there is no vaccine for mental distress, much can be done to prevent mental health problems; wellevidenced solutions are at hand.

Drawing on our experience in the prevention of mental health problems and promotion of mental wellbeing, the Mental Health Foundation has identified specific actions that governments and other actors can take to minimise the risk of widespread and long-term mental health problems as a result of the pandemic.

We seek to work with governments and other interested parties in progressing these recommendations so that everyone comes through the pandemic with the best possible mental health.

Read our recommendations for prevention

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