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Impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on well-being


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Well-being

Life satisfaction and anxiety improved in summer 2021, compared with the same period in 2020

Average personal well-being ratings, UK, years ending March 2012 to September 2021

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Over summer 2021 (Quarter 3, July to September), well-being remained similar to the previous period across all four indicators (life satisfaction, feeling that things done in life are worthwhile, happiness and anxiety). Compared with the same months in 2020, life satisfaction and anxiety improved, while feeling that things done in life are worthwhile and happiness were similar.

Last updated: 07/04/2022

Read more about this in Personal well-being in the UK, quarterly: April 2011 to September 2021 

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Females experienced lower life satisfaction and happiness during the coronavirus pandemic

Average (mean) ratings and confidence intervals of personal well-being in the UK by sex, January 2019 to September 2021

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Well-being across all four indicators declined for both sexes during the COVID-19 pandemic. In April to June (Quarter 2) 2020, females reported lower happiness than males. In October to December (Quarter 4) 2020 and January to March (Quarter 1) 2021, females reported lower life satisfaction and happiness than males.

Life satisfaction and happiness in both females and males improved by April to June (Quarter 2) 2021, until there was no longer a difference between the sexes by July to September (Quarter 3) 2021.

Last updated: 07/04/2022

Read more about this in Personal well-being in the UK, quarterly: April 2011 to September 2021

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Mental health

In December 2021, primary school pupils who had experienced long COVID since March 2020 were significantly more likely to have at least one probable mental disorder (30.0%) than those without long COVID (7.7%).

For secondary school pupils, 22.6% of those who had experienced long COVID had a probable mental health disorder, compared with 13.6% of pupils who had not. This difference was not significant.

This analysis does not imply causality — we don’t know whether any mental disorder was present before a child having COVID-19.

Last updated: 28/02/2022

Read more about this in COVID-19 Schools Infection Survey, England: long COVID and mental health, November to December 2021

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Primary school children who received a positive COVID-19 test were more likely to have a probable mental disorder

Around 8.0% of primary school aged pupils had a probable mental disorder (December 2021). Of those who received a positive COVID-19 test, 11.1% had a probable mental disorder, compared to 7.2% of those who hadn’t received a positive test.

Of all secondary school-aged pupils, 13.8% had a probable mental disorder, and this was significantly higher for girls (18.9%) than boys (8.8%). For secondary school pupils, (school Years 7 to 13) 13.9% of those who received a positive COVID-19 test had a probable mental disorder, compared with 13.6% of those who hadn’t received a positive test. This difference was not significant.

This analysis does not imply causality - we don’t know whether any mental disorder was present before a child having COVID-19.

Last updated: 28/02/2022

Read more about this in COVID-19 Schools Infection Survey, England: long COVID and mental health, November to December 2021

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One in six adults experienced some form of depression in summer 2021, compared with one in five in early 2021

Percentage of adults with moderate to severe depressive symptoms, Great Britain, July 2019 to August 2021

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In summer 2021 (21 July to 15 August), one in six (17%) adults experienced some form of depression. This is a decrease since early 2021 (21%, 27 January to 7 March) but is still above pre-pandemic levels (10%).

Last updated: 01/10/2021

Read more about this in Coronavirus and depression in adults, Great Britain: July to August 2021

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In summer 2021, rates of some form of depression declined across most population groups but remained higher than pre-pandemic levels

Percentage of adults with moderate to severe depressive symptoms, Great Britain, July 2019 to August 2021

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Younger adults and women were more likely to experience some form of depression. Disabled adults were more likely to experience moderate to severe depressive symptoms than non-disabled adults. Adults who reported being unable to afford an unexpected but necessary expense of £850 and adults living in the most deprived areas of England were more likely to experience some form of depression. Unemployed adults were twice as likely to experience moderate to severe depressive symptoms than those who were employed or self-employed.

Last updated: 01/10/2021

Read more about this in Coronavirus and depression in adults, Great Britain: July to August 2021

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In summer 2021, the most commonly reported impacts of the pandemic on life by adults experiencing some form of depression were well-being (74%), lack of freedom and independence (44%) and access to healthcare and treatment for non-coronavirus related issues (40%).

Last updated: 01/10/2021

Read more about this in Coronavirus and depression in adults, Great Britain: July to August 2021

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Further information


In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey was adapted to collect data on the social impacts of the pandemic. It includes insight into the impact of the pandemic on people's well-being. The data shows these impacts among different parts of our society, for example, on people of different age, sex, health or from regions. Data are collected using an online self-completion questionnaire. The results are weighted to be a representative sample for Great Britain.

To find out more about well-being data visit our more information page.

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