Mental health inequalities exacerbated by COVID-19 crisis

Almost a quarter of people have suffered at least one mental health problem much more than normal during the coronavirus lockdown, a new study has found.

The IFS study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, found the COVID-19 pandemic has led to hit people’s mental health across the country, with women and young people suffering the most.

Nearly 12,000 people took part in the annual survey and their results were compared with previous years’ results.

According to the report, the number of people who report experiencing at least one mental health problem much more than usual has more than doubled, from one in 10 before the pandemic to almost one in four (24%) of those aged 16 and over.

And it found the groups hardest hit overall are those who already had the worst mental health, and experienced the worst recent trends, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The young have seen significantly greater deteriorations in their mental health than have older groups, and women more than men.

Being furloughed was associated with a deterioration in mental health to the extent that it came with a reduction in earnings, but no additional deterioration beyond that explained by falling earnings.

According to researchers, there were also no significant differences regarding pre-existing health vulnerabilities, marital status, ethnicity or region of residence.

‘The effects of COVID-19 and the associated lockdown on mental health have been very big indeed,’ said IFS senior research economist at IFS and report author, Xiaowei Xu.

‘Young people and women, already at more risk of mental health problems, have experienced particularly big impacts on their mental health. These impacts need to be weighed alongside economic and other health effects of policies as we move out of lockdown. It will be important to monitor changes in mental health and to make sure that appropriate support is given to those who are struggling.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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