According to recent research, there has been an increase in the number of mental health problems among the population of the United Kingdom.
The study which was recently published in the American Psychologist journal identified some of the interceding factors which are affecting people’s ability to deal with the pandemic. Moreover, it has highlighted the effect of the pandemic on the ‘vulnerable’ population. Around 850 people were recruited for the study via online and social media channels. All the participants answered questions for a period of 10 days in April following the announcement of the lockdown in the U.K. Majority of the respondents (80%) were female and the average age of the study group was 38. Around 20% participants had reported preexisting medical conditions such as depression, anxiety, and a mixture of both. Analysis of the data revealed that quarter of the respondents had experienced worsening of their conditions during the lockdown. Overall, around 38% of the respondents fell into the category of depression, health related anxiety, and generalised anxiety, and symptoms were significant enough in 15% to be clinically diagnosed.
Health related anxiety was prominent in vulnerable groups compared to the general population. Moreover, people in the former group were also likely to experience more anxiety and depression. The team observed that ‘intolerance of uncertainty’ and ability to cope with intolerance was a primary predictor for worsening of mental health. Moreover, coping tactics such as denial, self-deprecation, and substance use had a negative impact in individuals' mental health. This was observed in the vulnerable group and the general population. Authors have suggested directing medical help and resources to help people cope with the pandemic. Moreover, the team has suggested promoting policies which ensure vulnerable individuals receive suitable mental health support when feeling distress. The authors add that anxiety is a reasonable response to the COVID-19 pandemic, however allowing it to escalate can impact daily life of the affected person.