Study launched to understand mental health implications of Covid-19

The University of Glasgow is leading a new study, in partnership with Samaritans and SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health), into the mental health and wellbeing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in adults across the UK.

The study will aim to understand the impact of the pandemic, and the unprecedented social distancing measures introduced across the country, on mental health indicators such as anxiety, depression, loneliness, self-harm or positive mental wellbeing.

Scientists have recruited 3,000 adults from across the UK, and will track their mental health and wellbeing – as well as their experience of COVID-19 – over the next six months and beyond. This will allow researchers to track mental health during and after the lockdown period, as well as what works to help keep people’s mental health stable in such difficult circumstances.

Professor Rory O’Connor, from the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Health & Wellbeing, who is leading the study, said: “We are living through exceptional times, that people will find unsettling, and leave them uncertain of what the future may bring.

“In this study, we aim to understand the psychological impact of COVID-19 on adults across the UK. No-one knows for certain what the impact will be, but by tracking a representative sample of the UK public, we will be able to identify who is most vulnerable and what helps to keep people safe and well.”

Dr Elizabeth Scowcroft, Head of Research at Samaritans, said: “This is a crucial piece of research at a really extraordinary time. It’s so important that we do everything we can to understand the impact of COVID-19 on the population’s mental health and wellbeing.

“At Samaritans, we know how important it is that people get the right support when they need it most. And the first step to making sure this happens is understanding more about what they are experiencing as a result of the pandemic.

“We are honoured to be supporting this project and working alongside researchers to produce insightful findings that will be directly translated into the real-world to help those who need it.”

Billy Watson, Chief Executive, SAMH, said: “We are delighted to be supporting this important new piece of research with a significant cohort of people in Scotland and across the UK.”

“Recent weeks have seen us all working to deal with the immediate impact of coronavirus, but it’s also crucial that we look at and understand the long-term difference it may make to Scotland’s mental wellbeing. Therefore we hope that this research will help shape our response now and in the future so that we are able to provide people with the best and most appropriate support we can.”

The researchers will use the findings to inform public policy and practice, and share their findings with key stakeholders and others working internationally to understand the impact of COVID-19 on physical and mental health.