• Ben Truman

Government policy negatively affected more than a third of the vulnerable shielded population.

The ONS have released new analysis that for the first time reveals how they have spent their time and how lockdown, as well as the additional shielding measures for this group, have impacted their mental health and personal well-being.

They worked with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), and Government Digital Services to run the survey.

This project goes hand-in-hand with analysis on the social impacts of coronavirus, the latest of which has also been published today showing how lockdown has affected anxiety levels across Britain.

More than a third of the shielding population reported worse mental health and well-being, with the effects differing by age and gender. Lockdown has impacted us all, but with the vast majority (95%) of the shielding group reporting that they entirely or mostly followed shielding guidance, life has been even more constrained and may help to explain changes to mental health and well-being.

Across the wider population, anxiety levels peaked soon after lockdown began. We are still generally feeling much more anxious than before the pandemic, however, anxiety levels have improved a little since this initial peak. The equivalent of 19m adults in Britain report high anxiety, compared with 25m in the early days of lockdown.

A further study found increased loneliness and anxiety during lockdown had particularly impacted people with disabilities. Almost three quarters (74%) of disabled people taking part in this study told us that they were feeling very or somewhat worried about the effect coronavirus was having on their lives and almost half (49%) said they had been lonely in the previous seven days.

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© 2020 by James Thomas Consulting.