Find out more with facts and figures charting the impact on our mental health across the UK.
As we move into the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK, mental health remains a major public health issue. It continues to be a source of huge stress and anxiety and has been impacting people in all age groups and locations – those with existing mental health challenges and those facing them for the first time.
The statistics on anxiety and depression, as well as other mental health conditions, show that if you are impacted by the pandemic, you are far from alone.
In a 2021 survey by Silvercloud Health, 90% of employees said COVID-19 contributed to increasing their stress level, and 81% of those with depression and anxiety indicated a greater need for mental health treatment during the pandemic.
In the UK, The Guardian recently reported on several pieces of research which pointed to a sharp uptick in levels of stress being reported in the UK, including in a major study, led by academics at the University of Nottingham.
They looked at the mental health impact of the pandemic and found that in the early stages of lockdown, 57% of those who took part reported symptoms of anxiety, with 64% recording common signs of depression.
It is clear from the evidence published and comments from senior figures in the public health community that the impact of COVID is not just on physical health. Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England recently said: ‘Mental health is one of the major challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated restrictions that have been needed to control it.’
Facts and figures depicting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our mental health
In this post, we’ve gathered some facts and figures that represent our collective mental health during the coronavirus pandemic.
There has been a succession of reports demonstrating the high levels of anxiety amongst the UK population due to the uncertainties and direct impacts of the pandemic.
In the summer of 2020, the Office for National Statistics reported that almost one in five people was reporting symptoms of depression in the crisis, a rise from almost one in ten from the previous period.
(Source: https://www.nature.com/ )
In the last week of January 2021, updated data published by the Office of National Statistics, showed personal wellbeing scores for life satisfaction, feeling that things done in life are worthwhile and happiness remained at some of the lowest levels recorded since this survey began in March 2020.
In addition, anxiety scores were at the highest they have been since April 2020 (see chart below).
These patterns have an inevitable impact on sickness rates and the demand for services provided by, or through, employers as increasingly unwell and desperate people seek urgent help.
This data is mirrored around the globe and with the restrictions on face-to-face contact with health professionals and health services, the demand for eHealth/online solutions has increased. Digital health programmes, particularly those targeted at anxiety and depression have a huge role to play at this challenging time.
Younger people and women are more likely to report anxiety and depression
Despite risks of death and/or hospitalisation for COVID-19 are higher in older adults, recent data suggests that it is younger people who are experiencing greater increases in their levels of anxiety and depression than older adults.
Tim Vizard, Principal Research Officer, Office for National Statistics commented that the research published by the ONS, showed that ‘adults who were young, female, unable to afford an unexpected expense or disabled were the most likely to experience some form of depression during the pandemic.’
The UK government has analysed a wide range of research, including from University College London, during the last year and have shown that women, younger adults, people with lower levels of educational attainment, and people living with children reported initially worse symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Similar data was published recently by the BBC (see chart below) showing the impact on different groups.
The ONS provided more detailed breakdowns of this data, highlighting some key headlines:
- Almost one in five adults (19.2%) were likely to be experiencing some form of depression during the pandemic; this had almost doubled from around 1 in 10 (9.7%) before the pandemic (July 2019 to March 2020).
- One in eight adults (12.9%) developed moderate to severe depressive symptoms during the pandemic, while a further 6.2% of the population continued to experience this level of depressive symptoms; around 1 in 25 adults (3.5%) saw an improvement over this period.
- Adults who were aged 16 to 39 years old, female, unable to afford an unexpected expense, or disabled were the most likely to experience some form of depression during the pandemic.
- Feeling stressed or anxious was the most common way adults experiencing some form of depression felt their wellbeing was being affected, with 84.9% stating this.
Over two in five (42.2%) adults experiencing some form of depression during the pandemic said their relationships were being affected, compared with one in five (20.7%) adults with no or mild depressive symptoms.
In a separate study, Michael Daly at Maynooth University in Ireland investigated the mental health of 14,000 people in UK households during lockdown. The results confirmed that women and young people experienced the greatest increases in mental health difficulties.
Research released by the Mental Health Foundation shows that feelings of loneliness and related anxiety have not returned to their pre-lockdown levels at any point over the past year and have risen from 10% in March 2020 to 26% in February 2021.
The impact is felt hardest on young people, with 48% aged 18-24 which has been consistently higher across all waves than the general population.
The youth charity, Young Minds, published their fourth COVID research report in early 2021 which reiterated this impact on young people, showing that 67% agreed that they believe the pandemic will have a long-term negative effect on their mental health.
Access to face-to-face therapy significantly reduced
The BBC recently reported that COVID has had an impact on the number of people using NHS-funded mental health services. On an average month, the NHS talking therapies service can expect to receive about 150,000 referrals for treatment of common mental health problems such as depression or anxiety. However, this dropped as low as 60,000 in April 2020.
Silvercloud could help you and your mental health
Recently published research demonstrated that internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (iCBT) can help to treat anxiety and depression. This is timely given the significant disruption that traditional forms of psychotherapy treatments have faced during the COVID pandemic as face-to-face contact has been greatly reduced.
Online therapy for mental health conditions, such as depression is proving to be a great solution in this pandemic world.
Silvercloud Health is helping organisations to support their employees to manage their own mental health. The evidence shows that up to 85% of users of the Silvercloud Health platform experience an improvement in their anxiety and depression symptoms.
Silvercloud Health supports healthcare organisations to deliver mental health and wellbeing interventions that are based on robust research and specialist clinical expertise, heling people with anxiety, depression, or both.
If you’re finding yourself more stressed because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, start returning to what feels right for you with free clinically-proven mental health support from SilverCloud, a trusted provider to the NHS. Sign up to our Space from Covid programme, available to everyone in UK.