Insights Into the Mental Health Pandemic in the UK
It’s easy to feel optimistic about the gradual lifting of lockdown restrictions; we first got to see schools open again, got the freedom to hang out in larger groups again, go to the gym, the pub and got some semblance of our social lives back again.
Although the vaccination rate has slowed down, visible progress is finally being made. The majority of us waited, stuck at home as reports of the cases and the death toll had us glued to our TV screens. We sacrificed, maybe even lost a loved one to Covid, hoping for the light at the end of the tunnel. All this rapid change within a year has done us in. How couldn’t it? Our well-being has been affected by the limited physical contact, stressors caused by the news, the very real sense of gloom that surrounds us, and reduced access to coping mechanisms. After all, bills still had to be paid, food still needed to be put on the table, and work still had to be done (if one was fortunate enough to have a job in the first place), and these are stresses that have only been compounded since the pandemic struck.
For its bi-weekly Corona Report, Appinio captures the mental health of the United Kingdom with a nationally representative (in terms of age and gender) survey of 1,000 Brits. Here are some of the key insights we have gathered:
Covid-related stressors still loom large
Around 55 percent of Brits report feeling at least somewhat worried about their own health because of the pandemic. The biggest concerns people share are friends and family members’ risk of infection (56%), followed by the long-lasting economic (47%) and psychological consequences (42%) brought upon by the pandemic.
The mental and physical health of the young is most affected
Younger participants seem more affected by the lockdown than their older counterparts. We asked Brits how they felt about their overall physical and mental health, respectively. By age group, the 16- to 24-year-olds reported the lowest scores for their physical and mental health at 3.7/6 and 3.4/6, respectively.
Nearly 44 percent of Brits reported feeling fatigued and a lack of energy at least often during the last couple of weeks, among other things. Younger Brits, namely the 16- to 24-year-olds reported greater frequencies of all the symptoms and emotions listed on our Covid report, including trouble falling asleep and having little interest or pleasure in doing things.
Stunted socialisation in the Covid era
We asked our respondents for their life satisfaction concerning different areas in one’s life. Lockdown and social distancing meant that people had to find alternative ways to stay in contact with their friends and extended family, including video and voice calls, and text messages. But studies have shown that these forms of communication, which have historically been treated as supplementary, are not efficient as substitutes. Behind holidays and travel, our respondents were the least satisfied with their social lives, with an average score of 3.11/6.
Report of virus variations exacerbates the situation
Steady progress has been made in getting people vaccinated, considering that last year this time, it felt as if there was no end in sight to the pandemic. However, mutations of the coronavirus can put all the work that’s been done into jeopardy by reducing the efficacy of existing vaccines and spreading rapidly if left untreated. This is an added stressor among Brits, especially after the emergence of the British (B117) variant late last year introduced the fear of an extended lockdown into their minds. When asked how worried they are about covid mutations, Brits reported an average score of 4.16/6, with 46.7 percent feeling either worried or worried a lot.
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