Coronavirus is impacting all of our lives. These pages highlight key findings from ongoing research Samaritans is doing to understand the impact of the pandemic on wellbeing.
Understanding the impact of the pandemic on our callers
The coronavirus pandemic is having profound social, psychological and economic impacts all over the world.
It is still too soon to know whether coronavirus has affected suicide rates and it is important to note that a rise is not inevitable. However, evidence also shows us that, as well as affecting people’s mental wellbeing, the pandemic is having an impact on factors we know are related to suicide risk.
Samaritans is seeing the direct impact of coronavirus on people’s wellbeing in the UK and Ireland. Since the pandemic began, we have been conducting research to understand more about how coronavirus is affecting people who access our services. This has involved analysis of anonymous data we routinely collect about our calls and emails, as well as research with our listening volunteers since social distancing restrictions began and a nationally representative, longitudinal survey of people’s wellbeing.
In the nine months since the restrictions began (23 March – 20 December 2020), we provided emotional support over 1,700,000 times to people struggling to cope, via phone and email.
One in five of our calls were from people who were specifically concerned about coronavirus – although, our volunteers suggest that coronavirus has affected every one of our callers in some way, even if it isn’t their main concern. For callers concerned about coronavirus, worries about isolation, mental ill-health and family have been the most common concerns.
Since the pandemic began, people’s concerns about coronavirus have been mostly related to the knock-on effects of the social distancing restrictions, including economic and mental health worries. However, as coronavirus infection rates rise, we also hear from many callers concerned about the risks and the effects of being exposed to the virus.
We’ve also seen a change in the way people use our services during this time - in the nine months since social distancing restrictions began, we answered nearly 400,000 emails – a 32% increase compared to the same period last year.
It is clear that the pandemic is affecting everyone – but not everyone is affected in the same way, and based on our ongoing research we are particularly concerned about three groups: