Impact of COVID-19 lockdowns on mental health: evidence from a quasi-natural experiment in England and Scotland

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

May 12, 2021


The Covid-19 pandemic has been associated with worsening mental health but it is unclear whether this is a direct consequence of containment measures, like ‘Stay at Home’ orders, or due to other considerations such as fear and uncertainty about becoming infected. It is also unclear how responsive mental health is to a changing situation. Exploiting the different policy responses to COVID-19 in England and Scotland and using a difference-in-difference analysis, we show that easing lockdown measures significantly improves mental health in a short time span. Additionally, we show that those with lower socioeconomic status benefit more from relaxing the restrictions, whereas they suffered a larger deterioration in mental health where the lockdown was extended. As lockdown measures may continue to be necessary in the future, further efforts (both financial and mental health support) are required to minimize the consequences of COVID-19 containment policies for mental health.

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Open Access

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

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