How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting the mental health of people in the UK?

As part of our regular work we lead research on what protects mental health, the causes of poor mental health and how to tackle them. This is no different in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Mental Health Foundation is leading a study over time of how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the mental health of people across the United Kingdom. We were able to start collecting data before the lockdown was implemented, as well as set up a strong UK-wide partnership alongside the University of Cambridge, Swansea University, the University of Strathclyde and Queen’s University Belfast.

The project

Since mid-March 2020, the project has done regular repeated surveys of more than 4,000 adults. The surveys are conducted online by YouGov and participants are representative of people aged 18+ and living in the UK.

Each time the survey covers a range of topics designed to shed light on people’s emotional responses to the pandemic, the key causes of stress, and what helps people cope. We are repeating the survey approximately every three weeks and overall it is expected to last for six to nine months. A particular interest is on the pandemic’s impact on inequality and mental health.

We are also working with a diverse Citizens’ Jury (who represent a broad range of human experience within the UK, including that of living with mental health problems) who are contributing personal insights, and comments on the data generated by the study.

Findings

We are publishing some of our data and findings online.

Our research is showing that whilst wellbeing seems to be improving, for some groups this is not the case, reminding us that whilst we are all together in the same storm, we are not in the same boat.

What’s next?

We are sharing our most important findings with politicians in all of the four UK Governments. These are being used by government representatives to prioritise action, inform policy, and influence recovery plans.

Also, at the Foundation we will use these findings to support the communities directly and disproportionately affected by COVID-19.