Coronavirus: Mental Health in the Pandemic
A new research study has found that walking outside, visiting green spaces such as parks and contacting family and friends are considered by UK adults as the most helpful ways to cope with stress about the pandemic. The new research is part of the 'Coronavirus: Mental Health in the Pandemic' study led by the Mental Health Foundation, in collaboration with the universities of Cambridge, Swansea, Strathclyde, De Montfort and Queen's University Belfast. School of SSESW academic Gavin Davidson (Professor of Social Care) was the Queen’s lead on the research team.
The findings highlight factors that can help prevent mental health problems and featured the following responses from UK adults who completed the survey about their experience of stress because of the pandemic:
- Six in ten said walking helped them cope.
- Half said visiting green spaces, such as parks, helped them cope.
- Almost half said contacting family (e.g. by phone, video chat, etc.) had helped them cope.
- Almost half said contacting friends (e.g. by phone, video chat, etc.) had helped them cope.
- More than eight in ten have experienced stress because of the pandemic.
- Nearly four in ten people said maintaining a healthy lifestyle, such as sleeping well and eating healthily, had helped them cope.
- Almost four in ten people said that doing a hobby was helpful.
Gavin Davidson commented: ‘These research findings reinforce the importance and benefits of us actively promoting our mental health through being active, engaging with nature and connecting with others. This positive focus on mental health promotion and prevention will hopefully also be a key aspect of the new Mental Health Strategy for Northern Ireland which is currently being developed by the Department of Health.’
The findings are from a YouGov survey done on 26-28 August, among a nationally representative sample of 4,251 UK adults. It asked participants what had helped them cope during the previous two weeks.
Professor Tine Van Bortel, from the University of Cambridge and De Montfort University Leicester, said: ‘There’s a growing body of strong research evidence about the determinants of our health and wellbeing. That is replicated by our findings. Access to nature and safe green spaces, positive social contacts, healthy lifestyles and meaningful activities are all crucial, for us to function well.
There is also strong international evidence that there is no trade-off between public health and the economy – quite the opposite: healthy, happy people make for stronger communities and thriving economies. This has important policy implications. The government should create a sustainable wellbeing economy developed with the active involvement of our communities - and a pandemic recovery plan that reaches right across government departments and society itself. This would also help to tackle the deep inequalities exposed by the pandemic.’
You can read more about this ongoing, long-term study at Coronavirus: Mental Health in the Pandemic.