The number of people reporting significant levels of depression and anxiety has risen exponentially after Boris Johnson’s lockdown announcement seven months ago.
More than 27 million people tuned in to watch the Prime Minister’s address to the nation, which is thought to be one of the most-watched broadcasts in UK television history.
But over the months that followed, lockdown, isolation, and constant news coverage has greatly impacted the public’s mental health.
Support services for those suffering from poor mental health have been working overtime in order to cope with this dramatic increase.
Doctor Joshua Fletcher is a UK best selling author on the topic of anxiety and panic disorder and runs his private counselling practice called The Panic Room from the Angel Centre in Salford.
He said: “I’ve noticed a quite significant increase of people who have developed disordered anxiety.
“It’s not anxiety directly related to the virus itself but a negative externality that has occurred because people through lockdown have been forced to confront themselves, forced to change their comfortable routine.
“Life has been put on its head which is stressful in itself.
“Don’t hide from stress, don’t hide from anxiety but also have balance in a sense that you notice that you’re constantly googling, worrying or ruminating about catastrophes then just ask yourself ‘is this good for you? What can I do to balance this?'”
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An independent study by Healthspan found that on Tuesday 24 March, the day after the prime minister’s lockdown speech aired 38% of study participants reported significant depression and 36% reported significant anxiety.
This compared with 16% reporting significant depression and 17% reporting significant anxiety the day before. Overall levels of anxiety have risen by 50% across the UK.
Salford residents shared their experiences of lockdown, Shannon Lee, 17, added how Coronavirus has impacted her mental health negatively, she said: “I’ve been feeling a bit sad and I got really, really lonely and bored because I don’t have any brothers or sisters… I was just a bit depressed.
“My mum got really scared because of the news and it’s just come out that they’ve been recording the deaths wrong so I don’t believe anything they’re saying and that’s making me more nervous.”
Ansar Shabbir, whose wife tested positive for Coronavirus back in June, said: “The news is definitely making the public more anxious because they’re not giving us the full truth.”
He added: “I personally think they are worrying people because when it first started they said if you touch somebody with coronavirus, you’ll get it.
“When my wife went into hospital, I went to go and get myself checked and I was negative.
“So, what do you think they’re doing? They are scaring us!”
Salford student Cushla Rice said: “I think constant news coverage reports definitely make the public more anxious because one day it feels like things are getting better… and then the next day it’s back there’s so many more cases, things are closing again, we’re going into Tier 3.
“It just feels at this point that it’s all you hear about nowadays and it just sets a really low, negative mood.”
For more information or help visit the panic room’s website here.