Northern Ireland news

Coronavirus: Queen's University study highlights impact of lockdown on mental health

Queen’s University has carried out the largest Covid-19 data collection exercise on mental health in the north to date.
Ryan McAleer

THE coronavirus lockdown could have significant implications for mental health, a study from Queen's University suggests.

Research found that a third of people analysed from Northern Ireland met criteria for depression and anxiety, with one-in-five showing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to Covid-19.

The month-long online study was led by Professor Chérie Armour and researchers from the university's Stress, Trauma and Research Conditions (STARC) research lab.

A total of 2,500 people from across the UK fed into the research, including 470 living in Northern Ireland.

The university said it represented the largest Covid-19 data collection exercise on mental health in the north to date.

“The rates of self-reported anxiety, depression and Covid-19 related symptoms during the first month of lockdown are quite striking within our Northern Ireland specific data,” said Prof Armour.

“They are comparable yet slightly higher than the rates reported in UK studies; mostly collecting data from England.

“This is understandable since Northern Ireland has previously reported a 25 per cent higher prevalence of mental ill health compared to England and our results have shown those with pre-existing mental health conditions are most at risk.”

Key workers, younger people and those who consume a high volume of Covid-19 related information were also identified as being at a greater risk of suffering mental illness.

Prof Armour said: “Based on the figures reported in this study related to mental ill health during lockdown and our understanding that many people may be experiencing psychological distress but not meet the criteria for mental ill health currently, funding should be provided for an uplift to the mental health workforce to support the potential influx of individuals needing mental health support.”

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