The findings have been revealed in a survey ahead of this year's Virtual Big Lunch
Almost half of people in Scotland feel lockdown has had a detrimental impact on their mental health.
A new survey out today (Wednesday 20 May) shows more than 45% of Scots feel lockdown measures have had a negative impact on their mental health, but not everyone is talking about it. One in two have not spoken to someone about their emotional wellbeing.
Although across the UK 45 to 54 year olds reported feeling the most anxious during lockdown, it is young people that have been most impacted by social isolation measures. Under 24s are most likely to feel lonely, depressed, experience Insomnia and feel teary. Almost one in three young people surveyed reported feeling hopeless.
Nationally, single parents also stand out as a negatively impacted group with the highest reports of increased stress.
In the poll of 4,000 people undertaken by The Big Lunch, one in five people reported they are worried about the mental health of someone they know and a quarter of respondents say the pandemic has left them feeling vulnerable.
The findings come as no surprise to presenter and comedian Jo Brand, ambassador of The Big Lunch.
The former psychiatric nurse said: “This health crisis poses a threat to people’s emotional wellbeing. As a nation we have no choice but to isolate ourselves, which can result in loneliness, anxiety and stress. What is worrying is that people don’t really seem to be talking about those feelings. When lockdown measures are relaxed, these anxieties may not magically go away.
“This pandemic could have worrying and long term effects on the nation’s mental health. I have been a supporter of The Big Lunch for four years now as I believe in the power of getting together to talk, even better if it’s over a meal. This year it’s not possible to have big street parties and group picnics, but it is more important than ever to still come together. This is why The Big Lunch is going to be a bit different this year. We can carry on sitting in our gardens and waving at our neighbours or pulling up a chair and raising a glass to the people over the road. We can even do a bit of digital dining. I’ve worked out how to use Zoom, so if I can log on and pour down a kale smoothie, anyone can have a Big Virtual Lunch.
“This survey may have shown that older people are more resilient, but it is so important to stay connected and make sure that everyone has someone to talk to. If you don’t know your Facetime from your Skype then just grab a handful of sausage and mash and pick up the phone.”
See Me director Wendy Halliday said: “The stigma and discrimination around mental health can mean that people don’t want anyone around them to know they’re struggling.
“This survey shows lockdown is having a huge impact on people’s mental health, so it’s worrying to see that one in two people haven’t spoken to someone about how they’re feeling and many others are feeling lonely. We would urge people not to struggle alone, or think that there are bigger things happening in the world; you should never feel embarrassed or ashamed to talk about your mental health. We all need to help each other and take people’s mental health seriously and if you’re worried about someone don’t avoid having the conversation, ask them if they’re okay, listen and show you care.
“We’re delighted the Big Lunch is going ahead virtually, because this is a great opportunity for people to have open conversations on mental health and show that it is okay to talk about how you’re feeling.”
The Big Lunch, an idea from the Eden Project, made possible by The National Lottery, usually attracts millions of people across the UK. Last year over six million people took part in 100,000 Big Lunch events. This summer for the first time in its 10 year history, The Big Lunch will become The Big ‘Virtual’ Lunch, with events running online, on the phone and on your doorstep on 6 and 7 June.
Almost three quarters of all respondents in the survey said they hoped a renewed sense of community spirit continues after lockdown, which is good news for Peter Stewart of the Eden Project.
He said: “Our survey shows that Groundhog Day monotony and social isolation are the biggest factors affecting our mental health right now. Instead of cancelling The Big Lunch this year, we have taken the decision to find novel ways of keeping people connected. The Big Virtual Lunch is asking neighbours and communities to still come together, but in new safe ways. This could be street Zoom lunches, community phone trees or an agreed time that everyone will raise a cup on their doorstep. Simple, small steps that will help us all still feel connected.”