The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown may have wide reaching implications for the mental health and wellbeing of populations beyond those who have been directly affected by the virus. This report outlines the findings from Wave 1 of the Scottish COVID-19 Tracker Study, which is the first wave in a longitudinal study spanning one year and a total of 5 waves. The aim of the study was to better understand experiences of the Scottish population during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, and their mental health and wellbeing during COVID-19 lockdown. It should be noted that as only one wave of data is yet available, it is not yet possible to report whether the rates of various mental health indices have increased or decreased for respondents from before the COVID-19 lockdown.
The Wave 1 findings suggest there are particular groups within society that may be at an elevated risk for more negative mental health and wellbeing outcomes such as depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms, suicidal thoughts, and mental wellbeing. The highest rates of negative mental health outcomes in Wave 1 are among young adults and women. Examining other background and health factors, respondents with a pre-existing mental health condition and those from a lower SEG also reported the poorest mental health outcomes in the SCOVID Mental Health Tracker Study. To a slightly lesser extent, individuals who identified at BAME also reported elevated levels of depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts, although this finding must be considered cautiously as they made up a very small proportion of the sample.
The survey waves which will follow will be especially important in monitoring the population-based mental health outcomes and detecting groups who are most vulnerable to negative outcomes related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, this longitudinal study aims to lend insight into the mental health impacts of the easing and tightening of lockdown restrictions across the Scottish population. Overall, the findings thus far suggest that rates of mental health outcomes may be more elevated than would be expected, and that particular groups within society are more at risk.
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