Simetrica-Jacobs, Jacobs’ subsidiary, and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) published a report on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health and wellbeing of people in the U.K., the company announced on Tuesday.
“The COVID-19 global health pandemic is having a major impact on our lives, yet little is known about the effects of policy responses around the world on people’s wellbeing,” said Jacobs President and Chief Operations Officer Bob Pragada. “As this new report shows, this type of analysis helps inform governments and stakeholders as they develop policy responses and solutions to improve wellbeing and quality of life as we move forward.”
Notably, Simetrica-Jacobs found that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in “substantially worse” levels of wellbeing and psychological distress across the U.K. in April 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.
Additionally, the report noted that levels of all measures of wellbeing have been at an all time low in the U.K. since records began in 2011, with parts of the population over the threshold for psychiatric morbidity.
With the regulations inherent from the COVID-19 pandemic, including effects of social distancing on mental health and wellbeing, have been calculated to have an indicative monetary value to the U.K. of $2.8 billion per day, or $53 per adult each day.
As governments look to future planning and policy appraisal, this type of country-wide analysis on the mental health and wellbeing impacts of COVID-19 will offer a social value perspective which has seen limited research to date. The researchers have also estimated that about two-thirds of the wellbeing cost is derrived from the impact of social distancing alone.
“The difference between reported levels of wellbeing in April 2020 compared to April 2019 is enormous, however, not surprising given the huge toll that COVID-19 and the policy responses are taking on us,” said LSE head of department and professor of Behavioural Science in Psychological and Behavioural Science Paul Dolan.
The results of the report were drawn from a survey on well being carried out by a representative sample of U.K. residents between April 9-19, 2020. Simetrica-Jacobs noted substantially worse levels of wellbeing and psychological distress amongst the U.K. population, among all groups of men and women, age groups and various ethnicities.
The report also found that during COVID-19 measures, decreases in wellbeing and levels of psychological distress were particularly high for women and ethnic minority groups, with key workers reporting higher levels of anxiety and psychological distress. The decline in wellbeing experienced by individuals was around twice the amount of the impact of becoming unemployed in normal times.
“We calculate that the social distancing measures make up about two-thirds of the wellbeing impact and this highlights the importance of government policies to address the mental health needs of those whose lives are being most adversely affected by the current measures,” added Dolan.
Simetrica-Jacobs has warned that the reported value has only included the impacts on individuals’ well being and does not include business impacts, impacts on children, government and healthcare expenditure and mortality due to COVID-19, and has noted that the full cost to society will be higher.
“The anecdotal evidence and news stories clearly show the impact that COVID-19 and social distancing are having on people’s lives,” commented Simetrica-Jacobs director Dr. Daniel Fujiwara. “The fact that there are significant reductions in a wide range of wellbeing and mental health measures, that the costs of social distancing are large and, that women and ethnic minority groups seem to be disproportionately affected should provide useful insight for policy.”
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