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The public's top concerns about coronavirus and mental health

We are proud to work alongside the Academy of Medical Sciences, and a team of mental health and neuroscience experts to make sure the mental health research response to coronavirus gets the urgent attention it needs.

As part of this work, we asked our supporters to tell us their top concerns about mental health and coronavirus. Their answers are helping to identify priority areas for research over the coming months. You can read the full report here, which analyses their answers as well as the results from an Ipsos MORI survey from the Academy of Medical Sciences.  

There were some common themes among people's top concerns, including anxiety, isolation, becoming unwell access to mental health services and worrying for their family. A number of activities were also said to help people's mental health and wellbeing during the lockdown. 

Anxiety 

For people with anxiety this is an extremely difficult time, social distancing and excessive hand washing are not helpful for anxiety. I am concerned it will be difficult to unlearn these behaviours after this is all over

Anxiety was the most common concern raised. Some people were already living with anxiety and worrying about the virus heightened their symptoms. Common causes of distress were worries about how to support others struggling with their mental health, or about family members becoming ill. Many of the respondents mentioned an overwhelming feeling of anxiety brought about by the uncertainty that comes along with the pandemic. Practical matters were also highlighted, such as finances, employment, lack of outside space, and obtaining food and medication. A large number of people mentioned a compulsive consumption of media fuelling anxiety. 

Isolation

That I will have a nervous breakdown due to the isolation, I have already been on my own for 10 days and not knowing when I will next see or touch someone is emotionally destroying me

Isolation and loneliness were key themes in both surveys. Many respondents were concerned with how social distancing and self-isolation would affect their mental health, as well as the mental health of others. Some spoke about feeling trapped and suggested a need for strategies to help cope during isolation, and to help others do the same.

Becoming mentally unwell 

I suffer from anxiety and have suffered from depression. The current situation is beginning to feel overwhelming which reminds me of how I felt during the worst of my last episode of depression. It’s beginning to impact my working life as this fear becomes all consuming.

Another common worry was about becoming mentally unwell as a result of the pressure of the pandemic. These pressures included uncertainty, fear of death and bereavement, as well as practical and economic challenges. Some people spoke about concerns for health and care professionals working with coronavirus patients. 

There were also concerns for those who have existing mental illnesses becoming exasperated by the pandemic, as well as worries about access to mental health services, with some local mental health services already closing down. Many people spoke about the mental health of some of society's most vulnerable individuals.  Another concern was that mental health would not be a priority compared to physical health conditions. 

Family and relationships 

My own fear, panic and deep concerns about what happens if I get ill as a single mum of children with complex needs.

Many people raised concerns about the impact of coronavirus on family and relationships, which could impact mental health.  Some mentioned fears of loved ones contracting coronavirus and worried about their mental health and wellbeing. Concerns were raised about how to look after family members' wellbeing during the lockdown, especially older relatives or young people missing out on school or exams.

Some people expressed concerns for increased household tensions during the lockdown, such as relationship stresses and domestic violence.

 What is helping mental health during lockdown?

We also wanted to find out what was helping people's mental health. The graphic below shows some of the most common activities that are were beneficial to the respondents' wellbeing during lockdown. You can read about them in more detail in the report. 

Last updated: 29 May 2020

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