The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and related lockdown measures have raised important questions about the impact on mental health. This study evaluated several mental health and well-being indicators in a large sample from the United Kingdom (UK) during the COVID-19 lockdown where the death rate is currently among the highest in Europe.
A cross-sectional online survey with a study sample that mirrors general population norms according to sex, age, education, and region was launched 4 weeks after lockdown measures were implemented in the UK. Measures included mental health–related quality of life (World Health Organization Quality-of-Life Brief Version psychological domain), well-being (World Health Organization Well-Being Index), depression (Patient Health Questionnaire-9), anxiety (Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7), perceived stress (Perceived Stress Scale-10), and insomnia (Insomnia Severity Index). Analyses of variances, Bonferroni-corrected post hoc tests, and t tests were applied to examine mental health indicators across different sociodemographic groups (age, sex, employment, income, physical activity, relationship status).
The sample comprised n = 1006 respondents (54% women) from all regions of the UK. Approximately 52% of respondents screened positive for a common mental disorder, and 28% screened positive for clinical insomnia. Mean scores and standard deviations were as follows: Patient Health Questionnaire-9, mean = 9.0 ± 7.7; Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7, mean = 8.0 ± 6.5; Insomnia Severity Index, mean = 10.4 ± 7.0; Perceived Stress Scale-10, mean = 17.7 ± 7.9; World Health Organization Quality-of-Life Brief Version, mean = 58.6 ± 21.4; and World Health Organization Well-Being Index score, mean = 13.0 ± 6.0. Statistical analyses consistently indicated more severe mental health problems in adults younger than 35 years, women, people with no work, and people with low income (all p values < .05). Mental health indices also varied across UK regions.
The prevalence of depressive, anxiety, and insomnia symptoms is significantly higher in the UK relative to prepandemic epidemiological data. Further studies are needed to clarify the causes for these high rates of mental health symptoms.