Young people, mental health and COVID-19 infection: the canaries we put in the coal mine

Ru Jia, Kieran Ayling, Trudie Chalder, Adam Massey, Elizabeth Broadbent, Joanne Morling, Carol Coupland, Kavita Vedhara*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objectives: The number of people testing positive for Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-COV-2) in the UK, particularly among young adults, is increasing. We report here on the mental health of young adults and related psychological and behavioural responses to the pandemic and consider the role of these factors in fuelling the increase in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in this group. Methods: An online survey was completed during the first six weeks of the first UK-wide lockdown by 3097 respondents, including data for 364 respondents aged 18–24 years. The survey included measures of mental health and indices capturing related psychological and behavioural responses to the pandemic. Results: The mental health of 18- to 24-years-olds in the first 6 weeks of lockdown was significantly poorer than that of older respondents and previously published norms: with 84% reporting symptoms of depression and 72% reporting symptoms of anxiety. Young adults also reported significantly greater loneliness and reduced positive mood, both of which were also associated with greater mental health difficulties. Conclusions: We contend that the combination of mental health, social and economic considerations may have contributed to the rise of COVID-19 infections in young adults, and ascribing blame to this group will not aid our efforts to regain control of the disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-161
Number of pages4
JournalPublic Health
Volume189
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
K.A. is supported by funding from the National Institute for Health Research School for Primary Care Research, United Kingdom (NIHR SPCR). T.C. acknowledges the financial support of the Department of Health via the National Institute for Health Research, United Kingdom (NIHR) Specialist Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health award to the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) and the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London. J.R.M. is funded by a Medical Research Council Clinician Scientist Fellowship [grant number MR/P008348/1]. J.R.M. is an editor of the Public Health and has been in no way involved in the editorial decision-making in the consideration of this manuscript. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care. No other funding supported the work described in this manuscript. The Corresponding Author has the right to grant on behalf of all authors and does grant on behalf of all authors, a worldwide licence to the Publishers and its licensees in perpetuity, in all forms, formats and media (whether known now or created in the future), to i) publish, reproduce, distribute, display and store the Contribution, ii) translate the Contribution into other languages, create adaptations, reprints, include within collections and create summaries, extracts and/or, abstracts of the Contribution, iii) create any other derivative work(s) based on the Contribution, iv) to exploit all subsidiary rights in the Contribution, v) the inclusion of electronic links from the Contribution to third party material where-ever it may be located; and, vi) licence any third party to do any or all of the above.

Funding Information:
K.A. is supported by funding from the National Institute for Health Research School for Primary Care Research , United Kingdom (NIHR SPCR). T.C. acknowledges the financial support of the Department of Health via the National Institute for Health Research , United Kingdom (NIHR) Specialist Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health award to the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) and the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London. J.R.M. is funded by a Medical Research Council Clinician Scientist Fellowship [grant number MR/P008348/1 ]. J.R.M. is an editor of the Public Health and has been in no way involved in the editorial decision-making in the consideration of this manuscript. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care. No other funding supported the work described in this manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Royal Society for Public Health

Keywords

  • Behaviour
  • COVID-19
  • Mental health
  • Young people

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Young people, mental health and COVID-19 infection: the canaries we put in the coal mine'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this