Major study to expose mental health impact of coronavirus

Two major British universities are launching a nationwide study to investigate the impact of coronavirus on mental health.

It comes after experts predicted a surge in cases of depression, anxiety, paranoia and obsessive-compulsive disorder as a result of the outbreak.

Announcing the study, researchers from the University of Sheffield and Ulster University said they aim to “understand how psychological and social impacts of the COVID-19 epidemic influence health-related behaviours”.

It is understood that the team will analyse the mental health and wellbeing of up to 2,000 people in the UK now, and again in a month’s time, to inform the “better management of future public health crises”. This includes helping people with pre-existing conditions cope better with similar epidemics, and how a reaction to an epidemic can affect the progression of an epidemic.

Commenting on the report, Dr Jilly Gibson-Miller, Lecturer in Health Psychology at the University of Sheffield, said: “This is one of the first studies of the ‘psychology of epidemics’ during perhaps one of the biggest existential threats the world has faced this century.

“Our survey will allow us to begin to understand, in great depth, the psychological impact of this epidemic on our citizens and how this changes as the epidemic unfolds.”

The latest figures suggest that 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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