The “vast majority” of adults across the UK have experienced symptoms that may indicate poor mental health during lockdown yet almost half have not told anyone, research for Bupa suggests.
Symptoms such as continuous low mood, anxiousness, low self-esteem or hopelessness have affected eight in ten (82%) of adults in lockdown, yet less than half (44%) have kept it to themselves, the survey of 2,000 people suggests.
A spokesman for Bupa said the analysis indicates a “sharp rise” in the number of individuals “bottling up” their emotions from 2019 when just one in five (22%) felt they had to keep their feelings to themselves.
Despite high rates of poor mental health during the pandemic, just one in 20 people (5%) has spoken to a health professional about their symptoms – and almost half (45%) say they will not seek medical help in the future.
Others plan to wait almost two months (49 days) before coming forward – and one in five say they’re planning to wait until things are “back to normal”, the research shows.
More than four in ten (43%) people have felt under pressure to “grin and bear it”, while others feel that now is not the time “to make a fuss” about mental health (23%) when the country is in crisis.
The Bupa research shows that baby boomers plan to delay seeking help the longest – 65 days – despite experiencing symptoms, and women, who will delay 15 days longer than men.
Pablo Vandenabeele, Clinical Director for Mental Health at Bupa UK Insurance, said there is “no getting away from the fact” that lockdown has been a difficult period for people’s mental health.
Vandenabeele said: “High levels of anxiety and depression have been reported while the country has been in lockdown, and as we remain in a period of uncertainty and change, mental health professionals expect these issues to continue.
“But it’s extremely concerning to see that so many people don’t feel that they can come forward to discuss their symptoms – either with friends or family or with a health professional.
“We can’t simply wait and hope these issues will pass. Early diagnosis is so important for improving outcomes, and with the number of services and resources available people shouldn’t suffer in silence or think that nothing can be done.”