People in the UK have experienced a “substantial decrease” in mental wellbeing since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, finds a new study.
The study, published in the journal Health Economics, showed a prolonged detrimental impact on mental health. And the research team fear that people’s mental wellbeing could get worse with repeated outbreaks of the pandemic in the longer term.
“People’s mental health worsened during the first wave of the pandemic. And the second wave was associated with an increase in the prevalence and variability of psychological distress. So the pandemic has had a prolonged detrimental influence on people’s mental health,” said researcher Apostolos Davillas from the University of East Anglia.
More people reported being unhappy and depressed in the second period of lockdown. In contrast, fewer people were worried about playing a useful role, which was most affected in the first wave of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the researchers also mentioned that not everyone has been affected equally.
Women in their twenties and early thirties experienced the biggest increase in mental health problems. Meanwhile, older men were found to be the least impacted by the pandemic.
For the study, the team included 8,317 participants and studied data from the UK Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS), which launched a Covid-19 survey to examine the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
They looked at levels of socioeconomic inequality and psychological distress in 2019, before the pandemic hit, and followed people’s mental health through two waves of the pandemic up to March 2021.
They found that the pandemic had caused significant declines in overall mental health between April 2020 and March 2021. And that the distribution of mental health problems within the population became more unequal.