Assessing the psychological impact of Covid-19 on people’s mental health

Published: 16 November 2020

Health experts from around the country are joining clinicians, academics and research participants online for Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust’s Annual Research Conference on Tuesday 17th and Wednesday 18th November, 2020.

The goal is to celebrate health and social care research in a variety of fields, including dementia and mental health, to help support and encourage more health care professionals to offer opportunities for people to become involved in research studies.

One of the keynote speakers attending the virtual event is Prof Shanaya Rathod, Consultant Psychiatrist and Director of Research, at Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust.

We spoke with Prof Shanaya Rathod, Consultant Psychiatrist & Director of Research at Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, to learn all about her recent Covid-19 research.

The research conducted by Prof Rathod included a survey about the psychological impact of Covid-19, which attracted over 29,000 responses from across the UK.

This research took place during the first wave, with the team conducting a second iteration during the second wave, to reflect on the changing landscape and the impact that these further restrictions may be having on people’s mental health.

When asked why she wanted to lead such research, Prof Rathod explained how every single human being across the globe has been affected by this pandemic; how everyone has been impacted in some way, whether it’s a fear of contracting the disease, financial and domestic worries, trust issues, isolation and loneliness, or anything else. There are many different negative implications of such a challenging time in our lives, with some people also dealing with grief after the tragic loss of family and friends.

On the other hand, Shanaya is also keen to encourage people to also consider the positive implications of this pandemic. She reflects upon how we’ve all come together to support one another during hard times; how people have stepped up to support their neighbours, and how those with busy lives have relished the change of pace.

This has been clearly illustrated through things like the NHS Clap for Carers events in local communities and the thank you key workers campaigns all over the country.

In short, the pandemic has had an impact on everyone, whether in a big, small, positive or negative way. It’s so extremely important that we not only acknowledge this, but also understand it. Research such as this one can help us do that.

29,134 responses were received from 1 May 2020 to 31 July 2020. The mean GAD-7 and IES-R scores of the study sample are 5.5 and 17, respectively. The data is currently being analysed but preliminary results show that with the ease in lockdown restrictions, the mental health of participants has improved gradually.

Prof Rathod, added: 

“I’d like to thank Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust and their fantastic Research and Development team, for contributing to almost 5% of the first phase of responses. Your Trust was one of the top 10 recruiting sites from across the UK. You did a fantastic job and the results we have found would not be possible without your commitment to our cause.”

This research will be spoken about at length during the upcoming Trust Research Conference on 17 and 18 November, 2020. To find out more about this and to register your attendance, please click here.

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