The number of mental illnesses caused by Covid is lower than feared, a large study finds

Boris Johnson

Then Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosted a medium during the pandemic (Image: PA/Alamy)

The Covid pandemic has taken a relatively small toll on the mental health of the majority of people around the world, a major study has found.

Scientists said the most comprehensive research into post-Covid-19 mental well-being underscores the strength of human resilience.

Some experts had warned of a “mental health tsunami” due to the combined stress of illness and lockdowns. However, a global analysis of studies suggests that these fears were largely unfounded.

Canadian scientists led the review of 137 studies published in the BMJ involving 134 groups of people from around the world. Most came from high- and middle-income countries, and three-quarters of the participants were adults, with the remaining quarter being children or young people aged 19 and under.

The researchers found that where changes in mental health symptoms were noted, those changes were mostly minimal compared to before the pandemic. The results applied both to the population as a whole and to specific groups.

“Mental health in Covid-19 is much more nuanced than people realize,” said the study’s lead author, Prof Brett Thombs, of McGill University in Montreal.

“Claims that the mental health of most people has significantly deteriorated during the pandemic are based primarily on individual studies that are snapshots of a specific situation, place, or time. They typically do not involve a long-term comparison with what existed before or after.’

co-author Dr. Ying Sun said, “In general, people have been much more resilient than many thought.”

Some women experienced worsening symptoms of anxiety, depression, or general mental health, which researchers say could be due to family commitments, working in healthcare, or in some cases, family violence.

dr Danielle Rice of Canada’s McMaster University said: “This is worrying and suggests that some women, as well as some people in other groups, have experienced deterioration in their mental health and continue to need access to mental health support. ‘

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Justin Scaccy

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