Wave 11: 18th June – 2nd July 2021

Restrictions are easing, people relaxing but resilience is still being tested amongst vulnerable groups

  • Only a third of people (37%) now report that they feel worried about being able to cope with the uncertainty of the pandemic (down from 53% in March 2020)
  • People are less worried about passing the virus on to others (77% in March 2020 vs 44% in June/July 2021)
  • With the ability to socialise more, the data suggests that young people aged 18-24yrs are coping better with the stress of the pandemic (62% said they were coping well in June/July 2021, up from 50% in February 2021)
  • However, since the first lockdown last March (2020), UK adults in general have slowly become less able to cope with the stress of the pandemic:
    • The proportion of people reporting they were coping well has fallen slowly and steadily, from 73% in April 2020 to 62% in June/July 2021
    • Those with a pre-existing mental health condition were less likely than UK adults generally to be coping well (34%)
    • Nearly a third of those with a long-term physical health condition (31%) are still reporting that they are not coping well with the stress of the pandemic
    • Older adults (55+) usually record slightly higher coping figures than adults generally. However, they are now coping less well (76% in March 2020 vs 60% in June/July 2021). This may be linked to anxiety related to restrictions easing

As COVID restrictions are lifted – not everyone is feeling better

As COVID-19 restrictions ease across the UK, our research shows some signs of improving mental health and wellbeing, compared with earlier in the pandemic:  

  • Anxiety and worry due to the pandemic has continued to decline significantly, falling from 62% in March 2020 to 33% in June/July 2021:
  • However, amongst those with a long-term physical health condition, anxiety and worry have not declined as quickly, with 40% still feeling anxious in June/July 2021, compared to 33% of the general population
  • Those with a pre-existing mental health diagnosis are also recording higher levels of anxiety and worry (48%)

 Please note: Data on Long Term Conditions and Pre-Existing Mental Health Diagnosis was not gathered until May and June respectively.

  • Among UK adults generally, 41% are fairly or very anxious about the lifting of restrictions. This anxiety is higher amongst people with a long-term physical health condition (59%), those with a pre-existing mental health condition (55%) and older adults over 55yrs old (42%)

     
    • Amongst all those who are fairly or very anxious about unlocking, nearly three-quarters (72%) said they were worried about being amongst crowds and crowded public places. Women and those over 55yrs old recorded the highest levels of anxiety, at 77% and 79% respectively.
  • On a positive note, the level of hopefulness in the general population is rising, with a quarter of those surveyed (25%) saying they feel hopeful in June/July 2021, compared to only 14% in March 2020:
  • Again, however, hopefulness is less common among those with a pre-existing mental health condition, with only 19% reporting feeling hopeful in June/July 2021 (dropping from 25% in February 2021)
  • In addition, feelings of loneliness have still not returned to their pre-lockdown levels, although they are now going in the right direction (10% in March 2020 vs 16% in June/July 2021). This is the lowest level of loneliness since March 2020. However, although loneliness is becoming less common across all groups, some remain significantly lonelier than UK adults generally:
    • full time students (28%)
    • people with a long-term physical health condition (26%)
    • people with a pre-existing mental health condition (25%)
    • young people aged 18-24yrs (24%)
    • people who are unemployed (23%)

Government priorities as restrictions ease

When asked what could be done by government to benefit and improve the nation’s mental health as restrictions ease and life starts to return to normal, the public are looking to the Government to set out a clear vision going forward (34%) and to tackle misinformation about COVID (33%).

Suicidal thoughts

Our study has also shown that suicidal thoughts have become more prevalent across the year and that they are increasingly common amongst our most vulnerable groups, despite the easing of restrictions:

  • Across the UK population, 8% of adults surveyed in April 2020 said they had had thoughts and feelings about suicide during the previous two weeks. This rose to 13% in February 2021 and has only decreased by 1%, to 12%, in June/July 2021
  • The prevalence of suicidal thoughts and feelings has been consistently higher, across the pandemic, among some more vulnerable groups. Figures for June / July 2021 show that suicidal thoughts and feelings were especially common among people with a pre-existing mental health condition (33%), young people aged 18-24 (27%), those with a long-term physical health condition (26%), and people who are unemployed (23%)

Total sample size in March 2020 was 2,126 UK adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 17th - 18th March 2020. Total sample size in June-July 2021 was 4,004 UK adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 18th June – 2nd July 2021. Each survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).