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'When will this end? Will it end?' The impact of the March-June 2020 UK Covid-19 lockdown response on mental health: a longitudinal survey of mothers in the Born in Bradford study.

By Josie Dickerson, Brian Kelly, Bridget Lockyer, Sally Bridges, Christopher Cartwright, Kathryn Willan, Katy Shire, Kirsty Crossley, Maria Bryant, Najma Siddiqi, Trevor A Sheldon, Deborah A Lawlor, John Wright, Rosemary RC McEachan, Kate E Pickett

Posted 30 Nov 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.11.30.20239954

Objectives To explore clinically important increases in depression/anxiety from before to during the first UK Covid-19 lockdown and factors related to this change, with a particular focus on ethnic differences. Design Pre-Covid and lockdown surveys nested within two longitudinal Born in Bradford cohort studies. Participants 1,860 mothers with a child aged 0-4 or 9-13, 47% Pakistani heritage Main outcome measures Odds ratios (OR) for a clinically important increase (5 points or more) in depression (PHQ-8) and anxiety (GAD-7) in unadjusted regression analyses, repeated with exposures of interest separated by ethnicity to look for differences in magnitude of associations, and lived experience of mothers captured in open text questions. Results The number of women reporting clinically important depression/anxiety increased from 11% to 19% and 10% to 16% respectively from before to during the first Covid-19 lockdown. Increases in depression/anxiety were associated with loneliness (OR: 8.37, 95% CIs: 5.70-12.27; 8.50, 5.71-12.65 respectively), financial insecurity (6.23, 3.96-9.80; 6.03, 3.82-9.51). Food and housing insecurity, a lack of physical activity and a poor partner relationship were also associated. Pakistani heritage mothers who were lonely or had a poor partner relationship had greater odds of worsening mental ill health compared to White British mothers with these exposures. White British mothers who were financially insecure or physically inactive had greater odds of worsening mental ill health than Pakistani mothers. Responses to open text questions illustrated this complex inter-play of challenges contributing to mental ill health. Conclusions Mental ill health has worsened for many during the Covid-19 lockdown, particularly in those who are lonely and economically insecure. The magnitude of associations between key exposures and worsening mental health varied between ethnic groups. Mental health problems may have longer term consequences for public health and interventions that address the potential causes are needed.

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