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Understanding the psychological and social impact of the pandemic


Welcome to this new newsletter providing results from the COVID-19 Social Study. With over 70,000 participants who have between them completed over 450,000 surveys across 14 weeks, this is the largest study of the psychological and social impact of the pandemic in the UK.

Below, we highlight some of the headline findings from the past month, provide links to media coverage the study has had, and discuss the work we are doing with policy makers and organisations across the UK.

We are currently looking for more participants who are happy to have a telephone interview with us so we can get a more detailed insight into their experiences. If you identify with any of the following groups and are happy to take part, please get in contact with Alex Burton as we'd love to hear how you've found the last few months:

  • People living with schizophrenia or psychosis
  • Men who are living with a mental health condition
  • Older adults (aged 70+) or people living with a long-term physical health condition from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds 
  • Black people who are living with a mental health condition

For those of you who have been participating in the study, a huge THANK YOU. Your time each week is immensely valuable in helping us to understand the effects of the pandemic on people and identify what support is most needed.

For more information or to take part, visit our website 

You are receiving this email as a member of the MARCH Network, or because you have requested updates on the Covid-19 Social Study. If you would prefer not to receive future newsletters, please unsubscribe using the link at the bottom of this email.

Key Findings 

Some insights into this month's findings…

Confidence in the government in England to handle the pandemic has plateaued over the last month following sharp decreases in May, but levels remain lower than confidence in devolved governments.

Compliance with guidelines has also plateaued, with overall compliance remaining high, although many people (especially younger adults) showing signs of bending rules.

Depression and anxiety levels dropped in May as lockdown easing began gradually across the UK but have stopped decreasing in the last three weeks and remain worse in people living alone and with lower household income. The majority of people are not stressed about catching Covid-19, although it is notable that younger adults are equally as stressed as older adults despite the risk of serious complications being lower for them, suggesting an altruistic concern about passing the virus onto other more vulnerable people.

32% of participants have reported on balance that they have been enjoying lockdown, although only 4% have been enjoying it very much and 17% have not been enjoying it all. Enjoyment has been higher amongst adults aged 30-59 and amongst people living with others and with greater financial resources. 

To see more results and further detail of the findings and methods, visit our website and download our weekly reports.  

Research Updates 

We have now published 10 pre-prints and peer-reviewed scientific papers on the Covid-19 Social Study data. These cover topics including:

·        Trajectories of depression and anxiety across lockdown

·        Patterns of depression in vulnerable groups

·        Predictors of volunteering behaviours during lockdown

·        Risk factors for loneliness during lockdown

·        Trajectories of loneliness across lockdown

·        Experience of adversities by socio-economic position

·        The relationship between adversities and mental health during lockdown

·        The relationship between mental health and sleep during lockdown

·        Smoking as a risk factor for catching COVID-19

·        Patterns of life satisfaction across lockdown


These can be viewed here. Further papers are in preparation, under review, or in press and will be added shortly.


To date, results from the Covid-19 Social study have featured in over 40 newspaper articles and 30 radio and television programmes. Some examples are below.

We have also been presenting results and providing data to a number of policy bodies including the World Health Organisation, governments across the UK, Cabinet Office, a number of All Party Parliamentary Groups on topics including suicide prevention, loneliness, compassionate politics and COVID-19, Public Health England, NHS England, local governments, and hundreds of community organisations across the UK. 

Please contact us if you would like us to connect with another group to support efforts relating to the pandemic.

The biggest psychological experiment in history is running now - what can the pandemic teach us about how people respond to adversity?  See article

Coronavirus affects mental health too - here's what we know
See article 

Over 60s are most active and least lonely during coronavirus lockdown
See article

Profile on our supporters

We would like to highlight the fantastic work of one of our supporters. Find Out Now is a highly diverse and representative panel of 2.5 million UK residents on Pick My Postcode, 100,000 of whom voluntarily engage with our market research every day. The company helped us recruit 30,000 people in the first few weeks of the study, without any financial incentive. 

Chris Holbrook, the CEO, tells us why he got involved:

"I spotted the Covid-19 Social Study on BBC News and instantly realised this is a perfect project for our digital research platform, We were uniquely placed to help, since our methodology reaches and motivates valuable respondents way beyond those available on paid panel schemes. We're proud to have been able to contribute to vital research on Covid-19."

Thank you Chris for your support!

COVID Minds Network 

The Covid-19 Social Study is part of the international COVID-MINDS Network, which is cataloguing longitudinal studies on mental health during Covid-19 internationally. You can see details of studies on the website, as well as links to empirical papers and resources and sign up for network newsletters
Copyright © 2020 UCL COVID-19 Social Study
All rights reserved

Our mailing address is:
UCL Department of Behavioural Science and Health
University College London
1-19 Torrington Place
London WC1E 7HB

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