Background: Waves 1 to 3 (March 2020 to May 2020) of the UK COVID-19 Mental Health & Wellbeing study suggested an improvement in some indicators of mental health across the first 6 weeks of the UK lockdown, however, suicidal ideation increased.

Aims: To report the prevalence of mental health and wellbeing of adults in the UK from March/April 2020 to February 2021.

Method: Quota sampling was employed at wave 1 (March/April 2020), and online surveys were conducted at 7 time-points. Primary analyses cover wave 4 (May/June 2020), wave 5 (July/August 2020), wave 6 (October 2020), and wave 7 (February 2021), including a period of increased restrictions in the UK. Mental health indicators were suicidal ideation, self-harm, suicide attempt, depression, anxiety, defeat, entrapment, loneliness and wellbeing.

Results: 2691 (87.5% of wave 1) participated in at least one survey between waves 4 to 7. Depressive symptoms and loneliness increased from October 2020 to February 2021. Defeat and entrapment increased from July/August 2020 to October 2020 and remained elevated in February 2021. Wellbeing decreased from July/August 2020 to October 2020. Anxiety symptoms and suicidal ideation did not change. Young adults, women, those socially disadvantaged, or with a mental health condition reported worse mental health.

Conclusions: The mental health and wellbeing of the UK population deteriorated from July/August 2020 to October 2020 and February 2021, a period coinciding with the second wave of COVID-19. Suicidal thoughts did not decrease significantly suggesting a need for continued vigilance as we recover from the pandemic.


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Cite as

Wetherall, K., Cleare, S., McClelland, H., Melson, A., Niedzwiedz, C., O'Carroll, R., O'Connor, D., Platt, S., Scowcroft, E., Watson, B., Zortea, T., Ferguson, E., Robb, K. & O'Connor, R. 2022, 'Longitudinal analyses of the UK COVID-19 Mental Health & Wellbeing Study (COVID-MH) during the second wave of COVID-19', BJPsych Open. http://hdl.handle.net/1893/34132

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Last updated: 08 October 2022
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