Nearly half-way through my 14 days of house arrest and I’m starting to look to this time next week when I’ll be free again!
I’m lucky enough to have a garden and to have Mrs Jones to share my quarantine with which has made it just about bearable. I am though counting the days until it’s over.
Having now experienced this proper lockdown where you’re not allowed to go out at all I can only imagine what it’s been like for older and vulnerable people who’ve had to live like this for months.
It must also have been so tough for the 100,000s of other people living through lockdown on their own, stuck indoors with no access to the outside.
A University College London social study of 90,000 UK adults that I’ve just stumbled upon online confirms that it was indeed tough and that these last few months of lockdown have serious affects on the mental health of millions people.
In the study more than two-thirds (69%) reported feeling somewhat or very worried about the the effect COVID-19 was having on their life.
The most common issues affecting wellbeing are worry about the future (63%), feeling stressed or anxious (56%) and feeling bored (49%).
The study showed that mental health has worsened substantially (by 8.1% on average) as a result of the pandemic and that young adults and women – groups with worse mental health pre-pandemic – have been hit hardest.
Lockdown has also brought social isolation to many, particularly people living alone or those who have been shielding.
The economic impact of lockdown has hit people in different ways with over a third of people in full-time work surveyed concerned about losing their job.
A quarter of those who are unemployed reported not coping well with the stress of the pandemic (twice as many as those in employment) with almost half worried about not having enough food to meet basic needs, and one in five had experienced suicidal thoughts.
People’s housing and their ability to afford housing are also strong influences on mental health. During lockdown, people have spent far more time than usual in their homes. Quality of housing and the opportunities it affords – including personal and outdoor space – are highly variable (12%) with one in eight households having no access to outdoor space.
The pandemic has also diminished many of the mechanisms people typically use to cope with stress. The most popular coping mechanisms during lockdown were staying in touch with friends and family and taking daily outdoor exercise, which has helped nearly half of the adults surveyed. Work has also been important, with the value for mental wellbeing extending beyond the financial benefits.
As I struggle through the relatively small inconveniences of my own quarantine I feel even more attuned to the very real suffering of millions of others. Part of me can’t help wondering whether the Government paid and is now paying enough heed to the mental health consequences of their decisions.