Poor mental health during lockdown most common among your generation

Information from CNC has helped to show that Gen Z was more likely to experience high levels of depression, anxiety and loneliness in the first Covid-19 lockdown, compared to older adults.

What we asked you

In May 2020, when you were 19, we asked you to complete an online survey about your experiences, health and wellbeing during lockdown. We also asked members of four older cohort studies the same questions. Several questions focused on how often you felt certain ways, including:

  • feeling like you took little interest or pleasure in doing things
  • feeling down, depressed or hopeless
  • feeling nervous, anxious or on edge
  • feeling like you could not stop worrying
  • feeling like you lacked companionship, or felt left out or isolated.

What we found

Researchers at the UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies found that poor mental health in lockdown was most common among CNC members, followed by 30-year-old millennials.

Across all four age groups, women were more likely than men to experience mental health problems. Among your generation, just over one third of women and just under one quarter of men had symptoms of depression during the first lockdown.

By comparison, among 62-year-old Baby Boomers, 7% of men and 10% of women had symptoms of depression.

The researchers noted that the findings from CNC chimed with other studies that have shown young women experienced the largest increase in mental health problems during the pandemic.

Why this research matters

Government and healthcare providers have been drawing on a wide range of scientific evidence to develop their response to the pandemic. Findings from cohort studies, like CNC, are particularly useful because they hold such a wide range of information on people’s lives, both before and during the pandemic.

Co-author of the study, Professor Praveetha Patalay (UCL Institute of Education), said: “Our findings clearly highlight high levels of difficulties being experienced by young people aged 19 and 30, especially young women. More needs to be done to support these age groups and limit the impact of the pandemic on their future health and wellbeing.”

Longitudinal studies like CNC will be some of the most important sources of evidence of the long-term impacts of the pandemic, because they follow people over time. Your participation at the and in the years to come will provide critical evidence on how your generation is faring in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Read the full research report

Mental health during lockdown: evidence from four generations, by Morag Henderson, Emla Fitzsimons, George Ploubidis and Praveetha Patalay, is a briefing paper published by the UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies in August 2020.