The Covid-19- induced lockdown has completely changed everyday life for most people across the world, with the protocols, including masks and social distancing, have become a new normal globally.

Studies have shown that this lockdown also has far-reaching consequences when it comes to handling mental health. Depression and anxiety have grown at an alarming rate - especially for young people under 30 and people with pre-existing mental health issues.

This proposition is also supported by a new study from the University of Copenhagen, University College London, Sorbonne University, INSERM, and the University of Groningen. The study builds on data from 200,000 citizens across Europe.

As part of the collaborative network COVID-Minds, researchers have gathered and examined mental health data from four different countries (Denmark, France, the Netherlands, and the UK) during the first lockdown in the spring and early summer of 2020.

Finding of study

Assistant Professor Tibor V. Varga from the Department of Public Health, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen said: “We have studied different mental health factors such as loneliness, anxiety and COVID-19 related worries. The highest levels of loneliness were observed amongst young people and people with pre-existing mental health illness.”

“Psychological stress is a prominent risk factor for future long-term and severe mental illness. Therefore, it is very important to know how lockdowns affect people, so we have a better chance of preventing long-term consequences,” he added.

The researchers suggested that the subgroups identified by the study as particularly prone to experiencing loneliness and anxiety should be closely followed to prevent future challenges.

The study revealed that in all four countries of Europe, the highest levels of loneliness and anxiety were observed in March and early April, in the very beginning of the lockdown. These outcomes slowly subsided over the next few months as the countries gradually reopened.

“Mental health has emerged as a quite important parallel concern of this pandemic. While we of course need to contain the spread of the virus and deal with the obvious emergencies at hand, we also need to pay attention to the potential damaging psychiatric aftermath,” says Professor Naja Hulvej Rod from the Department of Public Health.

The findings of the study were published in the journal EurekAlert!.

loneliness, young people, coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic, health, Europe, UK, mental health, anxiety, depression