Four in 10 Brits at risk of mental illness throughout pandemic, research reveals

Around four in 10 people in the UK are at risk of developing a mental health illness as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, a major study has revealed.

The research, published by a conglomerate of European universities, adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting that the Covid-19 lockdown may have a significant long-term impact on our mental, as well as physical, health.

According to the paper, the European population was surveyed throughout April and May to monitor stress, behavioural changes, and public opinion of Government responses to the pandemic. More than 10,500 people were studied in total, with 3,523 of these based in the UK.

The results show that around six in 10 (57 per cent) of the UK population reports having felt “down, depressed or hopeless” about the future. This is consistent across most of Europe.

Meanwhile, around four in 10 Brits (41 per cent) report that their mental health is at risk because of the lockdown. The authors suggest this could be attributed to unstable living conditions, loss of employment or income, or poor access to Covid-19 testing.

It is no surprise, then, that the majority (60 per cent) of UK participants agreed that “In addition to containing the virus, governments also need to focus on the prevention of a major economic crisis”.

Commenting on the paper, the authors said the data paints a picture of the impact of the lockdown and “we need to be prepared for the associated social and health consequences of that”.

The researchers add that a second survey, carried out in May, will provide a richer insight into the lives and mental wellbeing of Europeans deeper into the lockdown.

The latest figures suggest that around one in four people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year, with the most common illnesses being anxiety and depression.

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