I’ve seen lots of evidence that’s been published about the effects of COVID-19 on the psychological health of the population globally. Some of these are specifically related to COVID-19, but there’s also a kind of ripple effect of the impact of lockdown and economic downturns. I saw one study that showed one month after the UK lockdown, there was a rise in population prevalence of clinically significant levels of mental distress. It had gone up from 18.9% to 27.3%. So that’s a big increase after just one month of lockdown.
Also, I was reading some studies about the impact of economic downturns, and this has nothing to do with COVID-19, but generally speaking, if there’s a 1% increase in unemployment, there’s evidence to show that there’s also a 1% increase in suicides. So I think the effect of this pandemic is being felt everywhere.
This could include people, let’s say, with alcohol and drug issues, depression, increased anxiety, increased social anxiety, maybe people with exasperated obsessive compulsive disorder issues. I mean, the list could go on. There’s definitely going to be a ripple effect of long-term effects.
There’s definitely a link to an increased alcohol consumption during the pandemic, especially as time has gone on. A lot of the research that involves people reporting on their own levels of alcohol consumption has shown that people are drinking more, maybe up to a third more than pre-pandemic levels. And perhaps this drinking may have shifted as well to people using drinking as a coping strategy for all the other issues that we recently talked about.
I think one would also expect, with more alcohol being purchased and drunk, that we will see an increase, not just in deaths, but in other alcohol-related incidents. Obviously, an increase in health-related incidents, and things like domestic violence – let me just mention that men who drink are six times more likely to abuse their partners or children. So, domestic violence has been labelled the pandemic within the pandemic.
We have definitely seen an increase in cases of depression and anxiety reported to us by clients that can be attributed to the situation that’s going on at the moment. And we also know that there’s been a reluctance for people to access health care for fear of risk of infection, and this may have added to the death rate as well.