Pandemic psychology

Younger adults and people with existing health conditions are more likely to suffer anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and higher levels of worry as a result of COVID-19 measures, our research showed. 

Psychologists studied 726 people living across Scotland during lockdown to explore the impact the coronavirus measures were having on mental health. The COVID-19 Psychological Wellbeing Study found that 31 per cent of the sample population suffered anxiety, 34 per cent had depression, and 20 per cent showed signs of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). 

The study revealed that 30 per cent of the sample population were ‘quite a bit’ or ‘extremely concerned’ about becoming infected, half were just as worried about infecting others, the financial impact and the UK government’s ability to manage the pandemic.  

Almost 70 per cent said they were either ‘quite a bit’ or’ extremely’ concerned about the ability of the health service to care for COVID-19 patients if the situation was to worsen. 

Led by Dr Kerri McPherson and Dr Kareena McAloney, the team found that younger people and people with pre-existing conditions suffered most. They recommended a series of measures to the Scottish Government. These included including paying particular attention to vulnerable groups when creating, amending, implementing and communicating future COVID-19 policy and information; creating clear media guidelines for the dissemination of information and developing a campaign to educate the public about how to find reputable media information; and paying attention to public concerns about the pandemic’s impact on employment and finances and to perceptions about the government’s management of the pandemic.  

The School of Health and Life Sciences team also urged the Scottish Government to prioritise planning for how a potential increase in the need for mental health support will be managed at policy level.