How will the coronavirus pandemic affect the nation’s mental health? Covid-19 and the nation’s mental health: Forecasting needs and risks in the UK is the first assessment from the Centre for Mental Health of the likely impacts of COVID-19 on mental health in Britain. It uses evidence from previous epidemics internationally and from the aftermath of the 2008 banking crisis to estimate what effect COVID-19 will have on mental health at population level in the UK.
If the recession that follows the economic effects of the virus is similar to 2008, this analysis indicates that about half a million more people will experience a mental health difficulty over the next year. But if there is a second wave of COVID-19 and the economy is damaged further, the effects on mental health will be greater still, and last much longer.
The briefing looks at specific groups of people whose mental health will be put at risk as a result of the virus and the lockdown. These include people who have been bereaved at this time, those who have received intensive hospital treatment for the virus, and staff working in health and care services. Many people who have been through these experiences will experience serious grief and trauma symptoms over a long period of time.
The briefing also notes that some groups of people face an especially high risk to their mental health. They include people facing violence and abuse, people with long-term health conditions, and people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. People with existing mental health difficulties also face significant risks that their health will worsen at this time.