COVID-19 Scotland Wave 9: Key Findings

Emotional and mental wellbeing struggles continue

During the festive season similar proportions of people were struggling with their mental health compared to those of late November. Specifically, as of the week before Christmas:
• Over half (51%) of the Scottish population had felt anxious or worried in the previous two weeks because of the pandemic. Women (59%), full-time students (61%), single parents (63%) and those who have a pre-existing mental health condition (69%) were population groups who appeared to be feeling more anxious or worried 
• Almost a quarter of people (24%) reported feeling lonely in the previous two weeks
• Feelings of loneliness were higher amongst younger people too, with 36% and 37% of people aged 18-24 and 25-34 respectively. Feelings of loneliness have been consistently higher across all waves for young people than the general population
• Loneliness levels were also higher in people who are unemployed, full time students, single parents and people with a pre-existing mental health condition
• Like Wave 8 (late Nov), seeing family freely (25%) or seeing friends freely (16%) were highlighted as ways that would help alleviate people’s feelings of loneliness 
• One in five (20%) of the population reported feeling hopeless and over half (52%) reported feeling frustrated in the previous two weeks
 

COVID-19 restrictions continue to have a relentless impact on people’s abilities to cope

In general, 65% of people feel they are coping with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic-related stress very well or fairly well. Levels of coping with the COVID-19 restrictions and the impact this has on their mental health are only slightly higher than they were in November (63%).
 
Specifically, as of late December:
• Of those who reported not coping with this stress well (17% overall); those 18-24yrs (26%), the unemployed (30%); and those who have pre-existing mental health condition(s) (34%) were more likely to be less likely to be coping
• Almost half (47%) reported that they feel worried about being able to cope with the uncertainty of the pandemic 
 

What is helping people cope with the stress of the pandemic?

• For over half (53%) of the population, going for a walk outside helped them cope with the stress of the pandemic in the last two weeks. This has mostly been the top method of coping throughout the study’s 9 Waves
• Being able to visit green spaces helped over a third (39%) 
• Doing a hobby also helped a third (34%)
• Contacting family (45%) and friends (41%) also helped people cope with the stress of the pandemic. 
• Contacting family was the top coping method for those over 70 years old (63%), for people with a pre-existing mental health condition (43%) and for single parents (46%).
• Limiting exposure to COVID-19 news (30%) and maintaining a healthy lifestyle (29%) (e.g. balanced diet, enough sleep, exercise etc.) were also cited as a popular coping methods to cope with the stress of COVID-19. 
 
However, less helpful coping strategies have risen since late November. Specifically, as of December:
• 21% of the population said they were drinking more alcohol as a way of coping with the stress of the pandemic in the last two weeks. This is compared to 17% in wave eight. 
• The amount who stated they had eaten too much as a way of coping with the stress of the pandemic had risen slightly in this wave to 36%.
 
The Scottish population continues to feel concerned and worried:
• Over half (52%) are worried about becoming ill with COVID-19 and almost two thirds (63%) are worried about passing on COVID-19 if they become sick with the virus
• Almost a third (29%) are worried about making their own existing mental health difficulties worse.
• Over a quarter (28%) have financial concerns
• Over half (55%) are worried about being separated from their family and friends. 
 
Worries about their child(ren) continue to be present too:
• Nearly half (44%) are worried about the mental health of their child(ren) and how this is being impacted by the pandemic.  
• Over a fifth (22%) are worried about looking after their child(ren) in case they get sick.
• Parents are more worried about how their child(ren)’s social development is being impacted (33%) opposed to their educational development (23%).

People anticipate a negative long-term impact of the pandemic on their future and the future of others

Feelings of uncertainty about the future have risen since late November. Specifically, as of December:
• Over half (56%) of adults are worried their future is going to be worse because of the pandemic
• Two thirds (65%) of adults are concerned that the future of others their age is going to be worse 
• The proportions of adults who are  worried about their own future are higher for people aged 18-24 (66%), those with pre-existing mental health conditions (63%) and full-time students (75%).

Suicidal thoughts

• The proportion of people who had experienced suicidal thoughts or feelings in the previous two weeks was 13%, which was a slight decrease from 14% in wave eight.
• Figures were highest for people who are unemployed (31%), people with a pre-existing mental health condition (29%), single parents (25%), full time students (25%) and people aged 18-24 (23%).
• 10% who said they experienced these thoughts said they experienced them once or more a day.
• 6% of people aged 18-24 reported that they had deliberately hurt themselves, which was a slight decrease from 8% in wave eight. 
• 6% of people who are unemployed and 8% of people with a pre-existing mental health condition reported that they had deliberately hurt themselves. 
 

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2,031 Scottish adults 18+. Fieldwork was undertaken between 17th and the 30th December 2020.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Scottish adults (aged 18+).