2021-March-7 09:47
2021-January-24  16:06

We're Sadder, Poorer..., Fatter: Survey Finds Britain Is Suffering Under Lockdown

TEHRAN (FNA)- Life in lockdown is leading to a significant deterioration in the nation's mental health, according to an exclusive poll.

Some 41 percent have suffered a decline in their state of mind since the start of the pandemic, the Deltapoll survey for The Mail on Sunday found.

Concern over the crisis is growing rather than abating – the 84 percent who say they are "worried" about it is the highest figure since the end of April.

More than half of respondents (54 percent) say they have become more anxious, while 44 percent are more tired. Nearly two thirds (63 percent) say lockdown has made things more difficult for them, with a bleak 9 percent saying they feel as if they can no longer cope.

While 48 percent say they feel the same way now as they did during the last lockdown, nearly a third (30 percent) say they are finding it more difficult to cope in this one.

Psychologists are particularly concerned about the effect on children who are facing separation from friends and interruption to their education, and those fears are borne out by the poll: a third of parents say that the mental health of their children has become worse.

A similar proportion say their children's quality of life is now poorer – 42 percent.

The survey also found the crisis has impacted physical health and diet. People are eating more (42 percent – against 9 percent eating less) and drinking more alcohol (29 percent versus 24 percent). The knock-on effect is that 49 percent have gained weight, and only 16 percent have shed the pounds.

Despite partners spending more time together at home, their sex lives have been affected: 30 percent report less intimacy, while 16 percent are more sexually active.

In terms of household finances, 34 percent say their income has dropped since the crisis started, while 10 percent say it has increased. The poll picks up concerns about the lasting damage to children, with 38 percent saying the quality of their eduction has got worse and 37 percent saying it has damaged their future prospects (9 percent disagree).

A total of 42 percent believe home schooling puts too much pressure on parents, and four out of ten of those parents who feel their children's education is getting worse believe they will not be able to catch up once the crisis is over.

The burden of trying to make up for the closure of classrooms with home schooling is falling on mothers, according to the findings, with 39 percent saying that women have taken on the most responsibility.

Some aspects of family life have, however, improved, with 19 percent saying that they now have a better relationship with their children, compared to 10 percent who say it is worse. A total of 28 percent found the outbreak made them want to spend more time with their partners and 22 percent were arguing less with their family.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's approach to the crisis is broadly supported, with 47 percent saying his Government is doing the right thing against 41 percent who say it is doing the wrong thing.

The public backs tough measures: 86 percent think masks should be worn indoors in public places, and 72 percent think they should be worn in all public places. Half of voters do not think lockdown rules go far enough, and nearly three quarters (73 percent) think they were introduced too late.

The survey also finds support by a small margin for people who have received the vaccination to be allowed to enjoy greater freedoms, such as a return to restaurants, while a larger margin back travel bans for the unvaccinated.

A large majority of respondents (71 percent) indicate they are very likely to want to be vaccinated, but one in ten are still reluctant about a jab.

A majority (62 percent) feels it is important that some receive the vaccine before others, with fewer than a third (28 percent) believing that "all lives are of equal value" when it comes to vaccinating.

Meeting up with family, friends and eating in bars and restaurants top the list of things people miss being able to do the most. To fill the void, they are spending more time browsing the internet (the most popular choice), followed, in order, by watching television, using social media, cooking, video-calling family, cleaning, eating, walking, day-dreaming, doing the laundry, tackling DIY tasks and reading.

The uncertainty over travel restrictions means that fewer than a third of people (29 percent) are planning a summer holiday.

Despite policy U-turns during the crisis, Johnson records a positive approval rating for the first time since last summer, moving to a net score of plus one – although he still lags behind Labour leader Keir Starmer (plus 14) and Chancellor Rishi Sunak (plus 26).

Joe Twyman, the co-founder and director of Deltapoll, said, "The results show that millions are feeling significantly more anxious, more tired and less hopeful as a result of the outbreak… While the rollout of a vaccine is celebrated by many, British society generally, and the Government specifically, will have to find many more effective and lasting ways of dealing with this 'feel bad factor' in the months and years to come."

l Deltapoll interviewed 1,632 British adults online between January 21 – 23. The data has been weighted to be representative of the British adult population as a whole. Where percentages don't add up to 100, this excludes "others" and "don't knows".