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What our research reveals about Covid's impact on mental health

Much has been written recently about the impact the pandemic will have on the UK’s long-term mental health, with some warning Covid poses the 'greatest threat to mental health since the second world war'.

Our research of 900 owners and senior members of the UK’s small and medium sized businesses during the November lockdown has revealed how people are people are currently feeling and the reasons why.

Anton Nebbe (Head of PR), who commissions the research and is responsible for its dissemination, takes a close look at the results…

Q: In the current circumstances, do you feel your business requires you to be ‘always on’?

Three in five respondents answered ‘yes’ to this question, with bosses in larger firms feeling the most pressure. 60.2% answered yes, but this rose to 69.9% for companies with over 250 employees.  

From a sector perspective, those in Wholesale & Distribution feel the most need to always be ‘on’ (79%), which is most likely due to the rise in internet shopping and the consequent pressure to meet delivery dates.

Q: What is the main impact COVID-19 has had on your mental health?

Three quarters of those who took part in the research admitted the pandemic has had some sort of negative impact on their mental health. At 22%, anxiety was the most cited effect, followed by sleepless nights and low moods (both 15%).

  • I feel lonely 9%
  • I find it harder to switch off 14%
  • I have low moods more often 15%
  • I have had sleepless nights 15%
  • I feel more anxious 22%
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has not negatively impacted my mental health 25%

Stress factors

Underlying the need to always be ‘on’ and the consequent knock-on effects on people’s mental health, as laid out, above, are a number of key business-related reasons.

The wider (macro) economic outlook is causing the most stress for business owners, closely followed by the prospects for their own firm, decreasing profits and cashflow.

On the subject of cashflow, three quarters of firms polled have seen at least a 25% reduction in their income.

Coping mechanisms

Positively, many respondents have recognised the need to put in place coping mechanisms during the pandemic. The most popular of these are maintaining a routine and staying organised.

Q: What is the main step you have taken to reduce your stress or anxiety?

  • I share concerns with colleagues or friends and family 14%
  • I have tried to maintain a routine 21%
  • I give myself regular breaks 16%
  • I’m more flexible with my working day 18%
  • I am staying organised 20%
  • I have not taken any actions 12%