Women more likely than men to feel anxious during Covid pandemic

Gabriella Swerling
·2 min read
The third lockdown has triggered an 'unprecedented crisis', with a surge in calls to mental health helplines - David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images
The third lockdown has triggered an 'unprecedented crisis', with a surge in calls to mental health helplines - David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images
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Coronavirus Article Bar with counter

Women are "disproportionately" more likely than men to feel anxious during the coronavirus crisis, researchers have found.

The Cognitive Diagnostics Group at Imperial College in London has analysed mental health before and during the pandemic in the largest study of its kind, which has surveyed 390,000 people.

Previous research has shown that women are bearing the brunt of the crisis, with increased childcare duties and a higher likelihood of being made redundant. In November, global data released by UN Women suggested equality could be put back by 25 years because women were doing significantly more domestic chores and family care.

Imperial College found the number of women who reported feeling anxious several times a week rose from 27 per cent to 38 per cent before and after lockdown. The figure for men rose from 21 per cent to 27 per cent.

Dr Adam Hampshire, the lead researcher, said: "A key advantage of our study is that it includes an exceptionally large number of participants. This means that we are able to identify sub-groups among the British public whose mental health is most at risk during the pandemic while taking into account many other factors.

"From our results, we can see that age and gender are prominent, with older adults and females showing a disproportionate increase in anxiety levels mid-lockdown versus just prior to when the pandemic escalated in the UK. It also is the case that people who identify as neither male nor female show an even greater increase in anxiety levels during lockdown."

Dr Hampshire said the findings "highlight the importance of providing support for mental health problems during the pandemic, and indicate that such support could be tailored based on population variables".

The research, part of a collaboration with the BBC showed anxiety levels rose significantly across every group in society, with a 38 per cent increase in the number of people reporting feeling anxious more than once a week after lockdown. The number who said they felt anxious every day after lockdown increased by 42 per cent.

The highest anxiety levels came among those in their late teens and early 20s, but the group showing the biggest increase was people in their 70s and 80s, with a 60 per cent increase in their anxiety score.

The figures come after The Telegraph launched a new campaign, Mental Health Emergency, last week to highlight the detrimental effects lockdown is having on mental health and well-being.

The third lockdown has triggered an "unprecedented crisis", with a surge in calls to mental health helplines causing charities and psychiatrists to urge the Government to offer more support.

  • 'The Truth About Improving Your Mental Health' airs on BBC One and iPlayer on Wednesday at 9pm.