May 19, 2020

COVID-19:Week 7 Survey update and the impact of the pandemic on mental health

Week 7 of Government advised lockdown: Talking Medicines have now captured nearly 1500 responses (n=1,479) across four surveys showing the public attitudes to COVID-19. Outreach engagement is via direct Facebook from the Medsmart® community to understand the attitudes, views and behaviour changes in the community towards COVID-19. This activity sits within the terms and conditions and privacy of the Medsmart® community in the UK.

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. For this reason, this update reflects not only on the results from Week 7 but also the on the toll COVID-19 has taken on everyone’s mental health.

The topline results from Week 7:

  • The demographic of respondents is similar to previous weeks with the majority being aged 50+ (69.4%) and female (77.2%).
  • In Survey Week 7, The number of people practicing social distancing who do not have COVID-19 has remained similar from Survey Week 5 (96% compared with 94.7%).
  • Of those not leaving the house at all, there are even more people ordering shopping online in Survey Week 7 compared to previous survey weeks (42.7% compared with 17.9%, 25.6% and 31.5% in Weeks 1, 3 and 5 respectively).
  • In Survey Week 7, the most common reasons for leaving the house were to get groceries (56.1%) or to exercise (42.2%).
  • 9% of people who think they may have COVID-19 are not self-isolating in Survey Week 7. This number has increased each week from Survey Week 1.
  • The majority of those that suspect they have COVID-19 are getting their advice from the news (57.9% – Survey Week 7). This is an increase of 39.7% from Survey Week 5.
  • The most reported symptoms by those that may have COVID-19 are aching limbs and headaches (Survey Week 7). This is consistent with Survey Weeks 3 and 5.
  • In Survey Week 7, those recovering from COVID-19 said it took over a week for them to start to feel better, this is consistent with previous weeks.
  • 5% of those that have had COVID-19 and have now recovered recieved no medical treatment during the time they were unwell (Survey Week 7).
  • In Survey Week 7 the most commonly reported symptoms by the small minority of those that have COVID-19 were a dry cough (100%) then headache (66.7%). All of these individuals were told they have COVID-19 by a medical professional or tested positive.

The effect of COVID-19 on mental health

It was inevitable that a lockdown like this would evoke negative effects on the mental health of the population – it has eradicated normal routines, stopped people from seeing their families and in some instances has even prevented individuals from seeing the people they need to see the most, counsellors and mental health support workers.

Through our bi-monthly surveys we have seen the impact COVID-19 is having on everyone’s mental health. In week 1 we all thought that this would be over in a matter of weeks, in week 3 it looked more likely that this would continue for a month or so, now here we are in week 9, still with no clear cut end to these disruptions.

Yet, despite the dampened mood we have seen some true acts of kindness. And that’s what this year’s mental health awareness week is all about. The UK seems to be taking this pandemic in its stride – making sure that a bad situation doesn’t turn worse. We are seeing greater care for the elderly in the community, the production of masks and PPE for NHS staff, food provision and catering for those who cannot afford it and a real sense of camaraderie amongst us all to keep each other going.

There is no doubt this pandemic has changed the way we all look at the world and each other– it has opened our eyes to things we didn’t see before. We are more aware of those who are vulnerable and need to be listened to. We want to share our stories and show one another there is a way through.

I truly believe that without COVID-19 we would not have seen these monumental societal benefits. I certainly hope that we learn from this pandemic and remind ourselves of the importance of being kinder to one another long after this is all over. If we do, we can only reap the rewards.

Stay home, stay safe, and stay on top of your medicine with the Medsmart App.

Reference: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week

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