The coronavirus pandemic presents the greatest challenge to public health in living memory. As a response to slow the spread of the virus, countries worldwide, including the UK initiated a period of strict social distancing, or lockdown. However, due to the unprecedented extent of the lockdown, its social and psychological impacts are unknown. Dr Simon Williams, of the Centre for People and Organisation at Swansea’s School of Management, is leading a project, with collaborators in the University of Manchester and the World Health Organization, exploring UK public views during the pandemic.
The research uses a mixed method approach consisting of surveys and focus groups. The research is longitudinal in design, and is following a cohort of participants in real time through the pandemic. Data collection began during week one of lockdown and is currently ongoing.
The research is feeding into debates around public attitudes to lockdown. The research, discussed on BBC One, BBC Wales and BBC News, was amongst the first studies to show that lockdown was having significant mental health impacts. Dr Williams said: Lockdown is important to slow the spread of the virus but is coming at a significant cost to people’s mental health and wellbeing, particularly those in low-paid or insecure jobs. A rapid response is necessary in terms of public health programming to mitigate these mental health impacts."