COVID-19 Scotland Wave 8: Key Findings

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 (47%) of the Scottish population had felt anxious or worried in the previous two weeks, which rose to 65% of respondents who have a pre-existing mental health condition. 
• A quarter of people (26%) reported feeling lonely in the previous two weeks.
• Feelings of loneliness were higher in younger people too, with 40% of people aged 18-24 feeling lonely in the last two weeks. 
• Loneliness has been consistently higher across all waves for people aged 18-24 than the general population.
• Seeing family freely (26%) or seeing friends freely (15%) were highlighted as ways that would help alleviate people’s feelings of loneliness. 
• 17% of the population reported feeling hopeless and almost half (47%) reported feeling frustrated in the last two weeks.
• However, 62% of people reported that either being kind to others or receiving kindness from others (61%) has a positive impact on their mental health.
• Loneliness levels were also higher in people who are unemployed, full time students and single parents  in each wave.
 1 Data for single parents was only available from Wave 4 onwards. 
Generally, 63% 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 76% to 63% in late November.
• Throughout our study the proportion of Young People reporting they are coping very well or fairly well as the restrictions has also continued to decline – from 80% in April to 54% 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 (35%).
• Almost half (44%) reported that were worried about being able to cope with the uncertainty of the pandemic 
• Whilst a quarter (25%) were worried about being able to cope with self-isolation.
• Those with a pre-existing mental health condition are coping less well compared to the Scottish total sample.
• Coping levels have been consistently lower in unemployed people versus the Scottish total sample, highlighted in our most recent wave eight, where 63% of the Scottish total sample were coping very or fairly well, whereas only 47% of unemployed people are coping very or fairly well. 

The study shows that 92% 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 52% 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 with stress throughout the study’s eight waves. 
• However, in Wave Two contacting family (67%) and contacting friends (60%) were more popular than going for a walk (59%) as a coping method for stress.
• For two thirds of adults being able to visit green spaces (39%) and doing a hobby (36%) helped them cope with the stress of the pandemic.
• For nearly half of adults, contacting family (46%) and friends (42%) helped them cope with the stress of the pandemic. 
• For those over 70 years old contacting family (62%) was the most popular way of coping with stress of the pandemic. Followed by going for a walk (59%) and contacting friends (58%).
• Contacting family (56%) was the most popular coping method for women, whereas going for a walk was men’s top coping method (48%).
• Limiting exposure to COVID-19 news (29%) and maintaining a healthy lifestyle (28%) (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 Scottish population feels uncertain about being separated from family and feelings of worry are increasing:
• Nearly half (45%) are worried about the mental health of their child(ren) and how this is being impacted by the pandemic.  
• One fifth (20%) 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 56% and 59% being worried about their own future and 62% and 65% respectively being worried about others future, which reflects findings from our Great Britain 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 11% to 14%. Figures were highest for people aged 18-24 (22%) and 25-34 (20%).
• 9% 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 decrease from the former wave. 

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2,011 Scottish adults 18+. Fieldwork was undertaken between 24th of November and the 1st December 2020.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Scottish adults (aged 18+).