Study: UK women and young people's mental health worst-affected by the pandemic

During the study, women reported a greater increase of psychological stress than men. ― IStock.com/AFP pic
During the study, women reported a greater increase of psychological stress than men. ― IStock.com/AFP pic

LONDON, Aug 1 ― A study of more than 17,000 people's mental health before and after confinement in the United Kingdom concludes that women and young people seem to be the most affected by pandemic-related anxiety and stress.

Researchers at the City University of London and Manchester University surveyed 17,452 people in the UK to evaluate their mental health both before and after lockdown. The questions were developed using established diagnostic criteria for evaluating the general mental health of a population.

The results, published in The Lancet Psychiatry, showed a significant increase in anxiety and distress.

27.3 per cent of the respondents showed a level of mental distress considered clinically significant, compared to 18.9 per cent, or one out of five people, prior to the Covid-19 lockdown. The study also showed that certain inequalities in mental health which existed prior to the pandemic have been accentuated.

For instance, the increase in psychological stress for women was larger than that for men (an increase of 0.92/36, against 0.06/36). According to the survey, the mental wellbeing of young people aged between 16 and 24 years was also more affected than those aged 70 and over.

The responses also suggested the appearance of new inequalities in mental health after one month of confinement: people living with children younger than 5 years of age showed greater distress than those who didn't live with young children.

“These findings should help inform social and educational policies aimed at mitigating the impact of the pandemic on the nation's mental health, so that we can try to avoid a rise in mental illness in the years to come,” said Sally McManus, joint senior author and Senior Lecturer in Health at City University of London. ― AFP-Relaxnews

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