On balance, a third of people in the UK have been enjoying the lockdown, while 46% have not been enjoying it and 21% have mixed feelings, finds UCL’s COVID-19 Social Study.
The research also shows that 17% of people have not been enjoying lockdown “at all,” whilst only 4% of people have been enjoying it “very much.” Adults aged 30-59 have been enjoying it the most, as have people living with others, those with higher household incomes, people without any prior mental health conditions and those living with children. People in Scotland and Wales have been enjoying lockdown less compared to those in England. Experiences have been similar across ethnicity.
Launched in the week before lockdown started, this ongoing study is funded by the Nuffield Foundation with additional support from Wellcome and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). It is the UK’s largest study into how adults are feeling about the lockdown, government advice and overall wellbeing and mental health with over 70,000 participants who have been followed across the last 14 weeks.
Respondents were also asked how much they thought they would miss lockdown from one (not at all) to seven (lots). 36% felt they would not miss it at all, and just 5% said they would miss it very much. 26% felt they would miss lockdown more than not miss it, while 61% felt they would not miss it overall, and 13% were mixed in their feelings.
The figures also show that health behaviors have been affected during lockdown. 40% of adults reported gaining weight across lockdown (with 4% reporting gaining lots of weight), 17% reported drinking more than normal and 33% reported smoking more than usual. Figures for drinking and smoking only include those who said they usually engage in these behaviors.
Lead author, Dr. Daisy Fancourt (UCL Epidemiology & Health Care) said: “Our study shows that the majority of people are either not enjoying the lockdown or have mixed feelings about it.
“This is especially true amongst groups with a lower household income, who may be living in accommodation which is overcrowded or lacking in outside space, and those living alone, who may be feeling more isolated than those living with others.
“Of the third of people who report enjoying lockdown, a large number have higher household incomes and live with others or children, suggesting these people may have been less affected by the economic and social restrictions.”
Levels of ‘complete’ and ‘majority’ compliance with lockdown measures have stopped decreasing in the past week, and levels of confidence in the central government to handle the COVID-19 epidemic remain lower in England than in other nations, but have not decreased any further in the past week. Mental health has also remained relatively stable across all measures, but continues to be worse than usually reported averages.
Cheryl Lloyd, Education Programme Head at the Nuffield Foundation said: “Given that low earners have been most at risk of the negative social and economic consequences of the pandemic it is unsurprising that they have been less likely to enjoy lockdown than those on higher incomes. It is essential the policy response takes steps to reduce inequalities and minimize the longer-term scarring effects of the pandemic on low earners.”
The study team has also received support from Wellcome to launch an international network of longitudinal studies called the COVID-MINDS Network. Through the network, dozens of scientists and clinicians are coming together internationally to collate results from mental health studies running in countries around the world and compare findings. The initiative will support launching new mental health studies in other countries and show whether actions taken in specific countries are helping to protect mental health.