Almost half of adults have reported that the pandemic has impacted negatively on their mental health and wellbeing, a survey by Public Health England has found.
As PHE has launched a nationwide Better Health - Every Mind Matters campaign to support people to take action to look after their mental health and wellbeing and help support others such as family and friends, the survey found that 53% of women and 45% of men said their mental health had been affected.
Furthermore, the research also revealed differences in the negative mental health impacts the pandemic is having on younger people. Those aged 18 to 34 are more likely to report that COVID-19 has caused them more stress (51%) and made them feel more lonely (43%).
Clare Perkins, Director of the Mental Health Programme at PHE said: “While the experience of the pandemic has been different for everyone, there’s no doubt it has caused unprecedented challenges, and, not surprisingly, many of us are now experiencing poorer mental wellbeing.”
“Stress, anxiety and worry are very natural feelings in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak, and looking after our mental wellbeing has never been more important,” she added.
The survey commissioned at the start of the current government restrictions found:
- 46% reported experiencing more anxiety
- 44% were more stressed
- 34% of people were affected by sleeping problems
- 46% had been affected by low mood over the course of the pandemic.
The following were the most common reasons people thought the lockdown had negatively impacted their mental health:
- 56% missing friends and family; and loneliness 33%
- 53% uncertainty about the future; with financial and employment worries 27%
- 53% worried about family’s safety and health
However, three quarters of adults are planning to take or have taken steps to look after their mental wellbeing, with 32% exercising regularly, 29% eating well and 28% talking more to family and friends.
The Better Health - Every Mind Matters campaign, which is supported by a coalition of leading mental health charities, including Mind, Samaritans, YoungMinds and Rethink, encourages people to get a free NHS-approved Mind Plan from the Every Mind Matters website. By answering five questions, adults will get a personalised action plan with practical tips to help them deal with stress and anxiety, boost their mood, sleep better and feel more in control. Over 2.6 million Mind Plans have been created since it launched in October 2019.
The Every Mind Matters COVID-19 hub also includes practical tips and support on how adults can deal with uncertainty, how to cope with money and job worries and how to look after both their own and their family’s mental wellbeing while staying at home.
Minister for Mental Health, Nadine Dorries, said: “It is understandable that many of us will be feeling fed up, worried and anxious about the weeks ahead. For most, these feelings will subside as we draw on our own resilience, adapt to new circumstances and take comfort from the hope of better days ahead. However, there are simple steps we can all be taking to improve our mental wellbeing.
“Every Mind Matters’ mental health resources include tailored advice, as well as practical tips on sleep and self-care. It enables you to create your own ‘Mind Plan’ by answering 5 simple questions to receive tips and practical advice tailored to you.
“Whoever you are and whatever your situation, you are not alone and if you are struggling, there is support out there so I urge you to reach out and ask for help,” she added.