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Journal Article

Tracking the mental health of home-carers during the first COVID-19 national lockdown: evidence from a nationally representative UK survey

Authors

Publication date

10 Jun 2021

Summary

Background:
Unpaid carers who look after another member of their household (home-carers) have poorer mental health than the general population. The first COVID-19 national lockdown led to an increasing reliance on home-carers and we investigate the short- and longer-term impacts of lockdown on their mental health.
Methods:
Data from 9737 adult participants (aged 16+) from the UK Household Longitudinal Study (Understanding Society) were used to explore changes in 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) score between (a) pre-pandemic (2019) and early lockdowns (April 2020) and (b) early and later (July 2020) lockdowns.
Results:
GHQ-12 scores among home-carers were higher pre-lockdown and increased more than for non-carers from 2019 to April 2020 with further increases for home-carers compared with non-carers between April and July. Compared with respondents caring for a spouse/partner, those caring for a child under 18 had a particularly marked increase in GHQ-12 score between 2019 and April, as did those caring for someone with a learning disability. Home-carers of children under 18 improved from April to July while those caring for adult children saw a marked worsening of their mental health. Home-carers with greater care burden saw larger increases in GHQ-12 score from 2019 to April and from April to July, and increases through both periods were greater for home-carers who had formal help prior to lockdown but then lost it.
Conclusions:
The mental health of home-carers deteriorated more during lockdown than non-carers. Policies that reinstate support for them and their care-recipients will benefit the health of both vulnerable groups.

Published in

Psychological Medicine

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291721002555

ISSN

16

Subjects

Disability, Older People, Psychology, Unpaid Work, Young People, Households, Public Policy, Well Being, Health, Life Course Analysis, Caregiving, and Covid 19

Notes

Online Early; Open Access; This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution and reproduction, provided the original article is properly cited.


Related publications

  1. Home carers' mental health worsened during lockdown

    Elise Whitley, Kelly Reeve, and Michaela Benzeval

    1. Disability
    2. Older People
    3. Psychology
    4. Unpaid Work
    5. Young People
    6. Households
    7. Public Policy
    8. Well Being
    9. Health
    10. Life Course Analysis
    11. Caregiving
    12. Covid 19
  2. Tracking the mental health of home-carers during the first COVID-19 national lockdown: evidence from a nationally representative UK survey

    Elise Whitley, Kelly Reeve, and Michaela Benzeval

    1. Disability
    2. Older People
    3. Psychology
    4. Unpaid Work
    5. Young People
    6. Households
    7. Public Policy
    8. Well Being
    9. Health
    10. Life Course Analysis
    11. Caregiving
    12. Covid 19

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