Coronavirus – millions feeling panicked, afraid and unprepared

Millions of UK adults say they feel panicked, afraid and unprepared because of the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic, according to new study.

An analysis of data from a longitudinal study commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation in partnership with the Institute of Public Health at the University of Cambridge, has raised concern about the potential long-term impact of the crisis on people’s mental health.

The data was gathered during the week of March 17-18, so at a relatively early stage of the crisis, said the foundation, and therefore may even be underestimating the current levels of anxiety the pandemic is causing. However, the foundation has said it plans to re-commission the poll at regular intervals to enable it to track change over time.

According to the poll, at that time more than one in five (22%) of UK adults said they had felt panicked and three in 10 (30%) had felt afraid because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Almost one in five people (18%) admitted to feeling “hopeless”. In addition, almost one in three (29%) had felt unprepared, while one in 10 (10%) had felt loneliness.

Meanwhile, more than six in 10 adults (62%) said they felt anxious or worried, according to the YouGov poll of 2,126 UK adults aged 18 and older.

Mental Health Foundation director of research Dr Antonis Kousoulis said: “This poll was carried out before full lockdown was introduced. Even then, there were clear indications that the pandemic was beginning to have a significant impact on the nation’s mental health.

“The concern is that the longer these levels of mental health problems continue, the worse they become for many people. Among the issues we will need to monitor are impacts on levels of trauma, suicidal thoughts and mental health vulnerability.”

Earlier this month a poll by employee engagement survey firm Inpulse concluded six in 10 employees were currently feeling anxious, distracted or stressed, mainly because of fears around how the coronavirus pandemic will affect their job security.

Separately, a poll by mental health treatment specialists Smart TMS has suggested mounting financial pressure and insecurity from the major job losses across the country caused by the pandemic could put the mental health of millions of people at risk.

Its research suggested 44% of Britons typically had less than £20 left in their account at the end of the month after meeting their monthly financial obligations, while almost two-thirds of the country was actively in debt.

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