Centre for Mental Health to study impact of Covid-19 on wellbeing of whole population by asking for people’s stories in own words

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11 June 2020

With an expected rise in mental health problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Centre for Mental Health is launching a social history and research project giving everyone the opportunity to talk about the emotional impact in their own words.

A Year in Our Lives, a project launched today (11 June 2020), is asking people to write up to 2,000 words about how Covid-19 has affected their own mental health and wellbeing. The submissions will be shared in an online archive, but will also be analysed by researchers to identify trends in how people have been affected and whether different groups of people are affected in different ways.

From this month until January 2021, people will be able to submit their personal accounts here.

Sarah Hughes, chief executive of Centre for Mental Health, said: “The global coronavirus pandemic is not just a physical health emergency. It also has significant impacts on our mental health. We want people to tell us in their own words how their mental health and wellbeing has been affected by Covid-19 and other events this year. Whether you’ve experienced mental health problems in the past or not, whether it’s been a good or bad experience for you, whether you are young or old, and wherever you live, we want to hear from you about what this experience has meant to you.

“Social isolation can have a huge impact on mental health, and there are a lot of studies emerging into that. There are also projects giving people with mental health problems the opportunity to record how lockdown is affecting them, and social history projects looking at how Covid is impacting on individuals and communities. We are very specifically looking at the impact on mental health and wellbeing, but across the whole population and through personal narrative. 

“We are not assuming that everyone will be negatively affected by Covid-19. It may be that some people have found new ways to communicate have drawn them together, or that being furloughed has given them a break they needed. But others may have become anxious, many have been bereaved or experienced hospital treatment for the virus, or worked in a hospital or care home and found that this has had a big effect on their mental health longer term. And for many people, economic, social and racial inequalities have come into sharper focus this year, especially during the recent Black Lives Matter protests. We want to find out how different people have experienced 2020 to identify inequalities as they are experienced in our lives and to shape mental health policies around people’s needs,” she said.

Anyone of any age can submit an account to Year in Our Lives 2020 here until January 2021. We are asking people to submit one account of no more than 2,000 words. These stories will be published online and analysed by researchers at Centre for Mental Health.

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