Is it Time to Experiment With Change?

Carolyn Barber of Portsmouth’s Good Mental Health Cooperative, and local researcher and social entrepreneur, shares data from a research study on the effects of Covid-19 and social distancing on the mental health of adults in the UK.

Among the many news and research updates I follow to try and keep myself up to date, is a national research programme seeking to understand the psychological and social impact of the Covid 19 pandemic. The research study is being carried out by University College London to explore the effects of the virus and social distancing measures on adults in the UK. Over 70,000 participants fill in a weekly survey to share their views and experiences.

According to the findings from this research study in June:

depression and anxiety levels dropped in May as lockdown easing began gradually across the UK but …….. remain worse in people living alone and with lower household income. The majority of people are not stressed about catching Covid-19, although it is notable that younger adults are equally as stressed as older adults despite the risk of serious complications being lower for them, suggesting an altruistic concern about passing the virus onto other more vulnerable people.

Further reports from the survey suggest that rates of depression continued to decline as the lockdown measures eased, particularly among younger people. Throughout the pandemic, the researchers have found that

people from black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds have had higher levels of depression, anxiety and loneliness across the pandemic, and lower levels of happiness and life satisfaction. They have also been more worried about unemployment and financial stress.

Their latest report, for August, focused on people’s attitudes to changing lifestyles. Only 10% believed that they would go back to living exactly as they had before! Here were a few of the headline figures:

  • About half (51%) felt they were ‘more likely’ on balance to return to how things were before
  • 40% said they would increase their support for local business
  • Around a third (35%) thought they would exercise more
  • A third (33%) felt they would save more money
  • A fifth (22%) felt they were ‘more likely’ to change things
  • 9% said they would change their job

One thing is certain – more change is on its way. Some changes we can’t control, and others we can. How do you respond to change? How are you maintaining your emotional resilience given the uncertainty still about the future. Back in March, in the first of my weekly lockdown blogs I shared an image of the Change Curve. This is based on the work of Elizabeth Kubler Ross around dying, grief and loss, and demonstrates how normal it is to go through different stages of emotional and mental distress when faced with change, let alone the extraordinary events which have unfolded in the past six months.

Maybe collectively we’re now in an experimental phase, testing out new ways of living, working and socialising?

I’d be interested in any thoughts you have.


There’s still time to register for the Mental Wealth Academy mindfulness course for free, where you can access recordings with mindful exercises and guided meditations.

At the Good Mental Health Cooperative, we believe that connecting with others, and informal arts and wellbeing learning activities, are really important ways to take care of our mental health, and build the emotional resilience we need to get though these difficult times.

Please click here to complete this very short survey on the future of the Mental Wealth Academy.

Additional resources

Each week we share a range of strategies and resources to help you build mental and emotional resilience during the Covid-19 crisis. This is just as important as our physical strength if we were planning to run a marathon! And just like our physical health, taking care of our mental health is about establishing good habits as part of our regular routine.

We’ve been hard at work updating the Resources section of the Good Mental Health Coop website – these are resources you can use to build your mental and emotional resilience during these testing times. The Resources are divided under 4 themes – Meet, Relax, Learn, Create – please take some time to browse and check them out.

You can also find information about local support and services available if you’re feeling emotionally or psychologically distressed. Click here for Resources for Resilience.


This article was originally published as a newsletter. Check out the Good Mental Health Coop website, where you can sign up to receive Carolyn’s weekly mental health updates by email, and find out more about the amazing work the Coop do. You can also follow the Coop on Twitter and Facebook, and you can read all of Carolyn’s articles for S&C here.

Photo by andibreit from Pixabay.

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