The Other Pandemic: The impact of Covid-19 on Britain’s mental wellbeing

In February 2021 Public First polled 4,000 people and held 12 in depth focus groups with people from across Britain. The findings – published in this report by Public First – lay bare the genuine, wide and profound mental health crisis in Britain today. 15 percent of the public have lost a close friend or relative to the virus. And 40 per cent say their mental health has been negatively affected in the last 12 months.

The report shows that Coronavirus has taken on mental health in all parts of society – but especially women, the less well-off and young people. You can read the full report here 

The key findings of the report show that:

  • Young people have endured much worse mental health than older people. 50 per cent of 18–24-year-olds say their mental health has been negatively impacted by the pandemic – compared to just 25 per cent of those aged over 65 who say the same. 34 per cent of 18–24-year-olds rate their mental health as very or quite poor, up from 21 per cent who say they would have said the same before the pandemic.
  • Women have carried a particularly heavy burden. 42 per cent of women say they have been more worried about their own mental health because of Covid, compared to 32 per cent of men. 49 per cent of women say they have been worried about their mental health in the last year, compared to 34 per cent of men. They are also more likely to say they have struggled generally, but also more likely to name specific ways they have struggled – for example, with concentration and sleep. 
  • Women were more likely to say they found homeschooling “stressful”, with 62 per cent of women reporting that, compared to 41 per cent of men. But 38 per cent of men are finding it easier to talk about poor mental health since the start of the pandemic, a potential sign that stigma around mental health is being broken down.
  • Those with children have worried terribly about a “lost year” of childhood. 32 per cent of those with children under 18 say they have been worried about their children’s mental health in the last week. And well over half of all parents – 61 per cent – say that lockdown has had a negative impact on their children’s mental health
  • The better off have coped much better financially. By 31 per cent to 23 per cent those in the richest AB social groups say their personal financial situation has got better rather than got worse as a result of Covid. In the poorest DE group, by 27 per cent to 15 per cent people say their financial situation has got worse compared to getting better.
  • Furlough has not shielded people from extreme worry about their financial situation. The poll found that 45 per cent of those who have been furloughed at some point during the pandemic say they have worried about financial problems or worries in the last week, compared to 26 per cent of those who have not been furloughed.

If you are interested in knowing more about the report or working with Public First please contact Luke Tryl on Luke@publicfirst.co.uk