A look at the psychological burdens of COVID lockdowns

Over 80 percent of the people surveyed described themselves as happy with their living arrangements, and a similar number said that their overall health was good during the lockdown. Twenty percent worked in jobs that were considered essential and so were leaving the house regularly. Roughly a quarter indicated that they had a condition that put them at high risk should they contract COVID-19. So, based on these numbers, there doesn’t seem to be anything especially unusual about the survey population.

Despite being happy with their living arrangements, plenty of those surveyed weren’t especially happy overall. About 30 percent scored above the cutoff that would mark them as having at least moderate psychological distress. This was particularly pronounced among younger participants—just under half of the 18-24 age group reported that level of distress. When it came to anxiety, just over 15 percent scored in the moderate-to-severe category. As with distress, anxiety dropped as people got older. Just under 40 percent reported poor well-being on the WHO scale (with only 9 percent falling in the excellent category).

In pre-pandemic surveys, only about 8 percent of the population reported distress, while only a quarter had reported poor well-being based on the WHO scale. So, it’s clear that the lockdown conditions seemed to be making things more difficult for people. About 20 percent of the population had a previous diagnosis of a mental health condition, but they only accounted for about 10 of the 30 percent who were in distress during lockdown. About half of those who had a previous diagnosis felt like things had gotten worse during the pandemic, while only 15 percent felt that things were better during lockdown.

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