Follow Our Live Coverage of COVID-19 Developments

Mental Health Deteriorated During COVID-19 Lockdown

Greatest increases in mean GHQ-12 scores seen for young adults, women, people living with children

FRIDAY, July 24, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Mental health deteriorated in the United Kingdom by the end of April 2020 compared with pre-COVID-19 pandemic trends, according to a study published online July 21 in The Lancet Psychiatry.

Matthias Pierce, Ph.D., from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a secondary analysis of the U.K. Household Longitudinal Study panel. Data were included for 17,452 responses to the COVID-19 web survey, completed April 23 to 30, 2020.

The researchers observed an increase in the population prevalence of clinically significant levels of mental distress, from 18.9 percent in 2018 to 2019 to 27.3 percent in April 2020, one month into lockdown. During this time, there was also an increase in the mean 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12), which assessed mental health, from 11.5 in 2018 to 2019 to 12.6 in April 2020; when accounting for previous upward trends between 2014 and 2018, this number was 0.48 points higher than expected. After adjustment for time trends and significant predictors of change, comparing GHQ-12 scores within individuals, increases were greatest in 18- to 24-year-olds, 25- to 34-year-olds, women, and people living with young children (2.69, 1.57, 0.92, and 1.45 points, respectively). A notable increase in the GHQ-12 score (0.63) was seen for people employed before the pandemic.

"The problems for mental health from COVID-19 and governmental responses to the pandemic are not necessarily new; instead, pre-existing mental health inequalities could become more entrenched and tackling them might be even more challenging," the authors write.

Abstract/Full Text

Last Updated: