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Impact of Covid-19 on mental health in Europe revealed

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Across Europe, depression and anxiety disorders became more common following the onset of the pandemic, reports a major review of evidence led by UCL researchers.

Later in 2020, depression and anxiety rates reduced again, but fluctuated over the following year.

The systematic review, published in The Lancet Psychiatry, pulls together evidence from 177 studies in 20 European countries to assess how the Covid-19 pandemic affected mental health across the continent for the first two years after lockdowns began.

The researchers, led by a team at the NIHR Mental Health Policy Research Unit at UCL and King’s College London, found that not only did people access mental health services less in the early stages of the pandemic as service provision was disrupted, but that service use in some areas still had not recovered two years later.

Senior author Professor Sonia Johnson (UCL Psychiatry), Director of the Mental Health Policy Research Unit, said: “The disparity we found between increased prevalence of mental health problems and reduced service use suggests that the pre-existing treatment gap in addressing mental health problems may have increased, which could have potential long-term repercussions.

“Globally, provision of mental health services has long lagged behind demand, and in recent years this demand has continued to rise without sufficient increase in service provision; while the pandemic may have played a role in worsening this treatment gap, societal factors may play a greater role in driving rates of mental illness than the pandemic itself.”

Read more on UCL News

Read the full publication in The Lancet