Wave 8: Late November 2020

People are struggling with their emotional and mental wellbeing 

Nine months into COVID-19 restrictions and similar proportions of people are struggling with their mental health compared to those of late August. Specifically, as of late November: 

  • Almost half (45%) of the UK population had felt anxious or worried in the previous two weeks, which rose to 64% of respondents who have a pre-existing mental health condition.  
  • A quarter of people (25%) reported feeling lonely in the previous two weeks. 
  • Feelings of loneliness were higher in younger people too, with 38% and 34% of people aged 18-24 and 25-34 respectively, which has been consistently higher across all waves than the general population. 
  • Seeing family freely (25%) or seeing friends freely (16%) were highlighted as ways that would help alleviate people’s feelings of loneliness.  
  • Almost one in five (18%) of the population reported feeling hopeless and half (49%) reported feeling frustrated in the last two weeks. 
  • However, 61% of people reported that either being kind to others or receiving kindness from others has a positive impact on their mental health. 
  • Loneliness levels were also higher in people who are unemployed, full time students and single parents1 in each wave. 

People are struggling to cope with COVID-19 restrictions 

Generally, 62% of people feel that they are coping with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic-related stress very well or fairly well, however, there has been a slow decline in people coping with the COVID-19 restrictions and the impact this has on their mental health. Specifically, as of late November: 

  • There has been a slow decline since April in the populations’ ability to cope with the stress of the pandemic from 73% to 62% in late November. 
  • Throughout our study the proportion of Young People reporting they are coping very well or fairly well as the restrictions have also continued to decline – from 64% in April to 49% in this Wave. 
  • Of those who reported not coping with this stress well (17% overall), those who have pre-existing mental health condition(s) were more likely to not be coping very well or not at all well (37%). 
  • Almost half (45%) reported that they feel unable to cope with the uncertainty of the pandemic  
  • Whilst a quarter (26%) were worried about being able to cope with self-isolation. 
  • Those who are unemployed are coping less well compared to the UK total sample.  
  • Wave two highlighted that 73% of the UK total sample were coping very or fairly well with stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic, whereas only 55% of unemployed people were.  
  • Coping levels have been consistently lower in unemployed people versus the UK total sample, highlighted in our most recent wave eight, where 62% of the UK total sample were coping very or fairly well, whereas only 51% of unemployed people are coping very or fairly well.  

The study shows that almost nine out of ten (87%) of those who have experienced stress as a result of the pandemic reported that they were doing at least one activity to cope with the stress:   

  • For 56% of the population, going for a walk outside helped them cope with the stress of the pandemic in the last two weeks. This has been the top method of coping throughout the study’s eight waves.  
  • Being able to visit green spaces helped for 42% of the population.  
  • For nearly half of adults, contacting family (46%) and friends (43%) helped them cope with the stress of the pandemic.  
  • Going for a walk (66%) and contacting family (65%) as a way of coping in the previous two weeks were highest for those over 70 years old. 
  • Contacting family (67%) was the most popular coping method for women, whereas going for a walk was men’s top coping method (57%). 
  • Limiting exposure to COVID-19 news (40%) and maintaining a healthy lifestyle (44%) (e.g. balanced diet, enough sleep, exercise etc.) were also cited as popular coping methods to cope with the stress of the pandemic in the previous two weeks.  

People are worried and concerned  

The UK population feels uncertain about being separated from family and feelings of worry are increasing: 

  • Nearly half (44%) are worried about the mental health of their child(ren) and how this is being impacted by the pandemic.   
  • Nearly a quarter (23%) are worried about looking after their children in case they get sick. 
  • Over half (52%) are worried their future is going to be worse, which rises to 61% of people being concerned when thinking about the future of others their age.  
  • These figures rise for people aged 18-24 and 25-34 with 57% and 55% being worried about their own future and 61% and 65% respectively being worried about others future, which reflects findings from our adolescent COVID-19 study where 57% of people aged 13-19 are worried about their own future and 67% are worried for the future of their peers.  

Suicidal thoughts 

  • The proportion of people who had experienced suicidal thoughts or feelings in the previous two weeks had slightly increased from 10% to 13%. Figures were highest for people aged 18-24 (24%). 
  • 10% who said they experienced these thoughts said they experienced them once or more a day. 
  • 8% of people aged 18-24 reported that they had deliberately hurt themselves, which was a slight increase from the former wave.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 4,436 UK adults 18+. Fieldwork was undertaken between 26th and the 30th November 2020.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).