The British Medical Association (BMA) has warned that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic could lead to a mental health crisis in the UK unless extra support is provided, as a new study highlights that eight out of ten people have experienced potential symptoms of poor mental health in lockdown, yet almost half haven’t told anyone, with those symptoms planning to delay seeking help until things are ‘back to normal’
The new study from Bupa UK shows that the vast majority of UK adults (82%) have experienced symptoms that may indicate poor mental health such as continuous low mood, anxiousness, low self-esteem or hopelessness while in lockdown, yet almost half (44%) haven’t told anyone. This shows a sharp rise from 2019 when just one in five (22%) felt they had to bottle their feelings up.1
Despite high rates of poor mental health during the pandemic, just one in 20 people (5%) has spoken to a health professional about their symptoms. And concerningly, almost half (45%) say they will not seek medical help in the future. Others plan to wait almost two months (49 days) before coming forward – and one in five say they’re planning to wait until things are “back to normal”.2
Rather than confide in others about their mental health, many people have felt under pressure to ‘grin and bear it’ (43%), while others feel that now isn’t the time to make a fuss about mental health (23%) when the country is in crisis.
There’s particular concern over baby boomers, who plan to delay seeking help the longest – 65 days – despite experiencing symptoms, and women, who will delay 15 days longer than men.3
Mental health experts at Bupa UK are urging people to come forward with their concerns. Early diagnosis is proven to significantly improve outcomes.
Pablo Vandenabeele, Clinical Director for Mental Health at Bupa UK Insurance said: “There’s no getting away from the fact that this has been a really tough period for our mental health. High levels of anxiety and depression have been reported while the country has been in lockdown, and as we remain in a period of uncertainty and change, mental health professionals expect these issues to continue.
“But it’s extremely concerning to see that so many people don’t feel that they can come forward to discuss their symptoms – either with friends or family or with a health professional. We can’t simply wait and hope these issues will pass. Early diagnosis is so important for improving outcomes, and with the number of services and resources available people shouldn’t suffer in silence or think that nothing can be done.
Experts are also warning that more people may be affected by poor mental health as lockdown measures are lifted. Over half of adults (52%) are worried about what life will be like as we move towards a ‘new normal’ and a similar number feel anxious about the prospect of using public transport or being around lots of people.4 Research also shows that 65% of people are anxious about returning to the office5, and one in four expect their mental wellbeing to worsen as normal life resumes.
Research conducted among 2,000 UK adults by Opinium Research between 26-28 May 2020.
- In similar research conducted by Opinium Research for Bupa UK in March 2019, 71% of people had experienced symptoms of mental ill-health. 22% of people who had experienced symptoms of mental ill-health said they had told no one
- On average, those experiencing symptoms of mental ill-health during lockdown plan to wait 49 days before seeking help. 19% said they would seek help when things go ‘back to normal’
- Over 55s who have experienced poor mental health during lockdown plan to delay seeking help by 65 days on average. Women plan to delay for 57 days compared to 42 days for men
- 52% of people feel anxious about using public transport or being around lots of people (44%)
- Research conducted among 2,000 adults by One Poll on behalf of Bupa Health Clinics between 29th May – 2nd June.
You can read Bupa’s Press Release in full here