The Evidence: Mental health and the pandemic

Year two of the pandemic, and in tandem with rising rates of illness, death, acute economic shock and restrictions on everyday life, mental health problems have risen too.

Claudia Hammond and her panel of global experts answer listeners’ questions about the pandemic of mental illness and distress, and find out which groups have been hardest hit.

Children and young people were at low risk from the virus itself, but their lives have been upended as societies have locked down. Older people too have suffered loneliness and isolation as they have tried to keep themselves safe.

What does the evidence show about the true scale of suffering, and what can we learn from other countries about the best way to support those in real distress and bolster resilience within communities?

Claudia hears from Giulia in Brazil about her struggles with anxiety and from Mohsen in Tehran, Iran, about the techniques he is using to cope with anxiety and depression following the serious illness of himself and his family from the virus.

Her global panel of experts includes Dr Lola Kola, a mental health specialist and Assistant Director at the WHO Collaborating Centre at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, one of the authors of a major review of the mental health impacts of the pandemic in low and medium income countries published last month in Lancet Psychiatry; Andrew Steptoe, Professor of Psychology and Epidemiology at University College London in the UK, leading the UK Social Study, the world’s largest study into the mental health impact of the pandemic during the longest enforced isolation in living history; Cathy Creswell, Professor of Developmental Clinical Psychology at the University of Oxford in the UK, is head of the Co-Space Study, tracking how parents and children are coping during this pandemic; and Steven Taylor is a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Steven specialises in anxiety disorders, and just before the pandemic, he published a book, called The Psychology of Pandemics.

Production team: Fiona Hill, Samara Linton and Maria Simons

Editor: Deborah Cohen

Technical support: Giles Aspen and Bob Nettles

Picture: Young men wearing protective mask to protect against Covid-19 (Credit: Visoot Uthairam/Getty Images)

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