At a time when many of us have been focused on the physical health crisis enveloping the world, we must not forget the impact the virus is also having on our mental health. Adapting to a new routine, being stuck indoors for long periods of time and the uncertainty about what the future holds has had a large impact on people’s mental wellbeing. In a Populus survey conducted for the suicide prevention charity Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) 60% of people have admitted to experiencing a form of anxiety at this time. It is clear that more people are talking about and prioritising their own mental health at the moment, and this is something that should continue as and when the lockdown and social distancing rules begin to ease.

Over the last two months, more people have sought help for the effects of the lockdown by calling one of the many charities that have been helping people at this time. Simon Gunning, CEO of CALM, commented that they are not only receiving more calls, but that the nature of these calls is becoming more diverse and varied:

“We’ve spoken to frontline workers dealing with traumatic situations everyday, while also contending with their own worries and anxieties. We’ve spoken to people who are feeling confused, nervous, angry, frustrated and helpless, as well as people facing difficult life situations. We’ve spoken to those in strained relationships and with nowhere to go, to people who have suffered domestic abuse, and to people whose anxiety continues to rise because of the uncertainty or loneliness they are facing…”

The impact of the virus

This month CALM commissioned Populus to carry out a nationwide survey to see the impact the coronavirus was having on people’s mental health from across the United Kingdom. Participants were asked to rate how positive or negative the impact of the pandemic and current lockdown has been on them (1 being very positive, 10 being very negative). Overall over half (54%) were fairly neutral about the impact it had had, scoring between 4 and 6, however 18% stated that they felt the coronavirus and lockdown had had a very negative impact on how they had been feeling (scoring over 7).

Out of the 2,096 respondents, 60% said they had been feeling anxious at this time, with 33% saying they had been feeling more anxious than normal and 6% commenting that they had been experiencing anxiety for the first time.

When asked what they felt was behind these higher levels of anxiety, the main reason was the uncertainty of not knowing when this will end (56% agree). Out of those who admitted to feeling anxious for the first time, more than half (62%) said it was this uncertainty about when the lockdown would end that has been contributing to this. It is likely this level will remain high, especially after the confusion of the prime minister’s ‘stay alert’ message to the nation on the 10th May. The next highest reasons that are contributing to their anxiety include family concerns (40%) and the fear of contagion (35%).

To learn more about CALM or to find support for yourself and others visit thecalmzone.net

Populus Group has chosen CALM as their charity of the year. CALM are leading a movement against suicide, the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK. They run a helpline 7 hours a day, 7 days a week for anyone who needs to talk about their problems. They campaign across workplaces, universities, pubs, clubs and prisons across the country so people feel empowered to share their experiences and get the help they need before reaching a point of crisis.

To view the full data tables click here.

Methodology

Populus conducted an online sample of 2,096 UK adults 18+ between 7th and 10th May 2020. Data is weighted to be representative of the population of Great Britain. Populus is a founder member of the British Council and abides by its rules. For more information, see www.britishpollingcouncil.org