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Mental Health and COVID-19

Mental health and managing isolation during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

We hope that you and your professional and social networks are keeping well in these uncertain times. Under the restrictions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, research and practical work to reduce loneliness and social isolation and promote good mental health is now more relevant than ever.

Three of our co-investigators (Sonia Johnson, Alexandra Pitman, and David Osborn) have clinical roles as psychiatrists, and have seen the detrimental impact of social distancing on their patients’ symptoms over the last few weeks. Clinical services are adapting to the restrictions and offering what social support they can, both to existing psychiatric patients and those with emergency mental illness. The research community are also responding with rapid reviews of the evidence, and applying existing findings to developing initiatives that might buffer the impact of social distancing on new onset or worsening mental health problems. As a network we are collaborating with the NIHR Mental Health Policy Research Unit in supporting a range of projects that investigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health.

We would like to offer our members whatever support we can to enable you to continue the important work you are doing in this area. We have been collating resources (see below) that will help mitigate the mental health effects of the social isolation measures enacted in response to COVID-19. We welcome your suggestions so that we can add these to our website.

 

RESEARCH STUDY

Exploring the lived experiences of loneliness and isolation with people with mental health problems during the COVID 19 pandemic in the UK

The aim of this research study is to find out about the experiences of feeling lonely or isolated and how they may relate to experiences of mental health problems during the COVID pandemic and more generally.

Lived experience researchers conducted telephone and online interviews with people with lived experience of mental illness to help us understand more about mental health and loneliness and how it relates to COVID 19 pandemic.

It will also help us to do further research looking at how to measure these things, or to develop ways of supporting people’s mental health and reducing loneliness and isolation particularly during pandemics. 

The study is organised by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Mental Health Policy Research Unit, within the Division of Psychiatry at University College London, and the Loneliness and Social Isolation in Mental Health Network, within the Division of Psychiatry at University College London.

UCL Research Ethics Committee have approved this study: Project ID number: 15249/001

Thank you to everyone who has taken part in this study, we have now finished recruiting to this study and are currently analysing the interviews.

Watch an MHTV episode about this research.

Read the first paper published from this research 'Experiences of living with mental health problems during the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK: a coproduced, participatory qualitative interview study'.


 

Funding to support groups responding to the needs of communities affected by the covid-19 pandemic: https://londoncommunityresponsefund.org.uk/

 

Online resources

 

Are you interested in taking part in research relating to the coronavirus and mental health/wellbeing and isolation?

Here is a list of studies taking place: