Surgo Ventures

COVID-19’s mental health impacts may outlast the pandemic, especially for the UK’s young adults

Factors linked to mental health deterioration include personality, worries about catching COVID-19, susceptibility to conspiracy theories, and level of online/social media interaction

Photo by Külli Kittus / Unsplash

55% of people reported feeling worse in their mental health compared to before the pandemic, with young adults aged 18–34 affected the most

Stacked column chart showing percentage of people who felt worse now, better now or same compared to before the pandemic in anxiety and depression measures, or don’t know. 37% to 43% of people felt worse now.
Stacked column chart showing percentage of people who felt worse now, better now or same compared to before the pandemic in anxiety and depression measures, or don’t know. 37% to 43% of people felt worse now.
Column chart showing the percentage of people who reported worse mental health now compared to before the pandemic. 67% and 64% of 18–24 and 25–34 year olds, respectively, reported a deterioration of mental health during the pandemic compared to 55% and 48%, respectively, of 35–54 year olds and 55 plus.
Column chart showing the percentage of people who reported worse mental health now compared to before the pandemic. 67% and 64% of 18–24 and 25–34 year olds, respectively, reported a deterioration of mental health during the pandemic compared to 55% and 48%, respectively, of 35–54 year olds and 55 plus.

Personality, worries and beliefs about COVID-19, and social media use are the factors that correlate most strongly with worsened mental health

Graphic showing seven potential categories of predictors of mental health deterioration during the pandemic. These are: demographics and health vulnerabilities, trust in government, COVID-19 information sources, personality traits, experience with the healthcare system, personal experiences with COVID-19, and knowledge and perception of COVID-19
Graphic showing seven potential categories of predictors of mental health deterioration during the pandemic. These are: demographics and health vulnerabilities, trust in government, COVID-19 information sources, personality traits, experience with the healthcare system, personal experiences with COVID-19, and knowledge and perception of COVID-19
Graphic showing mental health risk factors of: tendency to experience negative emotions, worry about catching COVID-19, beliefs about COVID-19, interacting online and on social media about COVID-19, and mental health protective factors of agreeableness and overall health. These factors fall into the four categories of personality, knowledge and perception of COVID-19, COVID-19 information sources, and demographics and health vulnerabilities.
Graphic showing mental health risk factors of: tendency to experience negative emotions, worry about catching COVID-19, beliefs about COVID-19, interacting online and on social media about COVID-19, and mental health protective factors of agreeableness and overall health. These factors fall into the four categories of personality, knowledge and perception of COVID-19, COVID-19 information sources, and demographics and health vulnerabilities.

Online/social media interaction, conspiracy beliefs, and tendency to negativity may explain the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on young people’s mental health

Grouped column chart showing larger percentages of the 18–34 age group frequently interacting online or on social media, believing in conspiracy theories, and having a tendency toward negative emotions, compared to the 35+ age group, with differences of 7 to 13 percentage points.
Grouped column chart showing larger percentages of the 18–34 age group frequently interacting online or on social media, believing in conspiracy theories, and having a tendency toward negative emotions, compared to the 35+ age group, with differences of 7 to 13 percentage points.

Recommendations for action and further research

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