The mental health impact of the second lockdown

A poll finds that over three quarters of mums say the second lockdown was harder for them than the first.

silhouette of a person with grey paper scrunched up around to depict depression


Over three quarters of working mums say that they found the second lockdown harder than the first, according to a poll.

The poll shows 62% say they were struggling more with their mental health and with exhaustion during the second lockdown this winter than during the lockdown in Spring 2020. Fifteen per cent said they were more anxious about their jobs and/or children.

Just eight per cent said they were finding the second lockdown easier than the first and 15% said it was about the same.

The poll fits with what employers have been telling about what they are seeing and about the need to look out for employees’ mental well being. Some have brought in no zoom days or afternoons, wellbeing days or other forms of support to keep their employees going.

Experts say the combination of a long winter, exhaustion from months of the pandemic and disrupted childcare/schooling as well as ongoing financial problems, isolation from family and friends and other issues have contributed to a sense of mental exhaustion.

Women and mental health

Studies conducted before the second lockdown show women were already more likely to have suffered mental health challenges during the pandemic and a new study on US women shows that the mental health of American women has suffered far more from lockdown and social distancing measures than men’s.

Research just published in the BMJ  by Professor Neena Modi from Imperial College and Professor Mark Hanson from the British Heart Foundation argues that women’s wellbeing is vital not just for them, but for society generally. They say there is strong evidence for maternal and child health and wellbeing having a causal effect on transgenerational population health, adult prosperity and societal resilience – something that is vital for a sustained economic recovery after Covid.  Calling for policies that aim to end gender-based inequities and address the unequal burden of unpaid work women do, they recommend new ways of working and policies that recognise and value caring work as well as an economic framework that assigns measurable value to actions that improve the health and wellbeing of women and children.

A positive outlook

On the individual everyday front, neuroscientist Dr Lynda Shaw says that, in addition to practical help, having a more positive mindset is vital for overcoming negative feelings. She adds that not only do our expectations for ourselves influence outcomes, but others’ expectations of us also have an impact on our behaviour, feelings and thoughts.

She lists five ways to develop a more positive outlook, including building your confidence by setting achievable and realistic goals, being open-minded to learning new things and embracing new opportunities,  overcoming challenges and learning from them in order to build resilience and adopting more positive language when talking about yourself. She says: “Humans are creatures of habit, but habits can take time to form, and it can take a while for a new behaviour to become automatic.”

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