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Psychological wellbeing in the English population during the COVID-19 pandemic: A series of cross-sectional surveys

Publication date: 

29 Jun 2022


Journal of Psychiatric Research Volume 153, September 2022, Pages 254-259


Smith LE, Amlȏt R, Fear NT, Michie S, Rubin GJ and Potts HWW

Publication type: 



Abstract Psychological distress has been elevated during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, few studies published to date have investigated distress after the first wave of infections (Spring – Summer 2020). We investigated distress and wellbeing between April 2020 and April 2022 in England through a series of cross-sectional online surveys. People aged 16 years or over living in the UK were eligible for the surveys; for this study we selected only those living in England due to differences in restrictions between UK nations. Distress was measured using the PHQ4 (n = 60,921 responses), while wellbeing was measured using the Short Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (n = 61,152 responses). Throughout, approximately 50%–60% of women and 40%–50% of men reported distress, higher than the 25%–30% of women, and 20%–25% of men reported in normative data. Wellbeing was also worse than population norms, with women reporting lower wellbeing than men. Rates of distress in the English population have been consistently high throughout the pandemic. Patterns of distress have broadly mirrored the pattern of restrictions and case numbers, but there are notable exceptions which indicate that other factors may play a part in population mental health.