Government reports on Covid-19 and Mental Health


There is evidence that self-reported mental health and wellbeing worsened during the first national lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic. Psychological distress, anxiety and depressive symptoms appeared to peak in April 2020. There is evidence of some recovery since April, but not yet to pre-pandemic levels.

Data from the UK Biobank suggests that people with a psychiatric disorder have been more likely to be diagnosed with, hospitalised by and die from COVID-19 than people without a psychiatric disorder.  An NHS Foundation Trust in London has reported 1109 excess deaths among people with pre-existing mental health disorders between March and June 2020. This is out of a total of 2561 deaths on their mental health register during the period, and based on a comparison between 2019 and 2020. COVID-19 was recorded as the underlying cause in 64% of this excess. The remainder of the excess was accounted for as either unnatural/as yet unexplained or from neurodegenerative conditions. The study does not compare excess deaths among adults in contact with, or previously in contact with, mental health services to the general population, or account for the impact of comorbidities.

Evidence points to an association between many health conditions and mortality from COVID-19. A recent study found that serious mental illness was associated with a relatively modest increased risk of dying from COVID-19 (26% for women compared to women with no serious mental illness, and 29% among men).  However, as an illustrative example, type II diabetes was associated with a 529% increased risk for women (compared to women without this diagnosis) and 374% increased risk for men.

There is survey evidence to suggest that fewer than half of adults affected by abuse, self-harm and thoughts of suicide/self-harm accessed formal or informal support during April 2020, although it is not clear whether this is more or less than before the pandemic.

One study has found that caregivers were more likely to report depressive symptoms than non-caregivers, both before and during the pandemic, and that this was increased when the caregiver also felt lonely.

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