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Covid: Lockdown had 'major impact' on mental health

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Lockdown had a major impact on the UK's mental health, including increased rates of suicidal thoughts, according to new research.

The study, led by the University of Glasgow, examined the effects of COVID-19 during the height of the pandemic. Certain groups are said to be particularly at risk, including young people and women. 

This publication is the most detailed examination of how the UK's adult population coped during the first weeks of lockdown, when people were given strict orders to stay home.

Researchers say public health measures, like lockdowns, are necessary to protect the general population, but warn they may have a "profound and long-lasting" effect on mental health and will extend beyond those who have been affected by the virus.

The study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, looked at three blocks of time between March 31 and May 11.

Just over 3,000 adults in the UK were surveyed and a range of mental health factors were considered, including depression, loneliness, suicide attempts and self-harm.

The study found suicidal thoughts increased from 8% to 10% and they were highest among young adults (18-29 years), rising from 12.5% to 14%. The researchers say that, even though those are relatively small rises, they are significant because of the short period of time they happened over.

"The majority of people did not report any suicidal thoughts, but this creeping rise over a very short period of time is a concern," says Prof Rory O'Connor, chair in health psychology at the University of Glasgow's Institute of Health and Wellbeing.

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Source: BBC News, 21 October 2020

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