Almost half (47%) of UK adults say their mental health has been affected by the coronavirus outbreak – especially those having to self-isolate.
This is according to an Opinium poll of 2,005 adults conducted on 19 and 20 March – just before the nationwide lockdown was announced by Boris Johnson.
Coronavirus and mental health
One-third (35%) said they were worried about their future, while the same proportion said they were feeling “overwhelmed” by the news.
Half (51%) of those who were self-isolating because they had, or suspected they had, the Covid-19 virus said it had affected their mental health, versus 42% who were not.
Sophie Holland, senior research executive at Opinium, said: “Understandably, this is a difficult time and the government lockdown can place extra strain on people’s mental health. And with the further social distancing measures in place it’s important that we look after ourselves by keeping as connected and active as possible.
“This could take the form of video calling friends and family, using any outdoor space for some fresh air, and taking advantage of daily outdoor exercise, whilst following the government restrictions.”
Almost half (49%) said they had spoken to their families more than normal since the outbreak, with 37% suggesting they had done so to help improve their mental wellbeing. Popular mediums included texting/instant messaging (63%), phone calls (62%) and video calls (28%).
Women (46%) were more likely than men (28%) to lean on their families for support.
People have also been trying to keep physically active to improve their mental wellbeing (37%). Isolated workers also turned to healthy balanced diets (27%), implementing a structured home routine (19%) and meditation/mindfulness (8%) to support their mental health.
Looking specifically at staying physically active, half (50%) have used walking to improve their physical health, while 24% have taken advantage of the sunshine to do some gardening.
Group risk industry body GRiD, meanwhile, has said employees may be able to find support within the benefits offered by their organisation, such as fast-track access to mental health support or financial support for those unable to work.
GRiD spokesperson Katharine Moxham said: “Emotional and financial support is needed on an unprecedented scale right now, and it will be group risk benefits that employers will look to to provide it.
“I’m very proud of how our industry steps up to the mark during times of need. Each employer’s arrangements will be specific to them, so it’s important they understand what’s covered within their own schemes, to make sure they’re getting all the support available for those dealing with the effects of Covid-19. If they haven’t already engaged with their advisers, now is the time.”