The parallel pandemic: COVID-19 and mental health

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Publication date

June 1, 2022


Mental health decreased across England during the pandemic. It was worse in the North of England ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic, dropped further over the course of the pandemic and has stayed below pre-pandemic levels. Our previous research1 found that COVID-19 deaths were 17% higher in the North of England, hospital pressure due to COVID-19 was 10% higher in the North and the three northern regions spent an additional six weeks in the harshest lockdown restrictions. Unemployment has been 20% higher in the North since 2020, wages in the North fell during the pandemic and we estimated that the increased mortality in the North of England during the pandemic cost the national economy up to £7.3bn in lost productivity. The effect of the pandemic on other important issues – most notably mental health - has been less explored2 . The pandemic potentially impacted on mental health in various ways – including the fear generated by a novel infectious disease, social isolation from lockdowns and school closures, fear over future employment and income (especially for those on furlough or unemployed), comorbidity with COVID-19 illness, lack of access to support services (especially for those with a pre-existing condition), lack of control and fears for the future. To understand the impact of the past few years on mental health and productivity in the North and to explore the opportunities for levelling up mental health and improving productivity across the country, the Northern Health Science Alliance commissioned this report with the four Northern NIHR Applied Research Collaborations (ARC North East and North Cumbria, ARC Greater Manchester, ARC North West Coast, ARC Yorkshire and Humber).





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