A third of Scottish adults in full-time work are worried about losing their jobs, according to new data from a study tracking the mental health risks and impacts of the pandemic.
The latest research, done between 23 April and 1 May, also found that one in six unemployed adults surveyed said they had had suicidal thoughts and feelings during the last two weeks.
Another finding of the new survey is that nearly a third of all adults surveyed said they were worried about their finances, such as bill payments and debts.
The survey data, from 2,056 Scottish adults aged 18 and over, were collected as part of a major UK-wide longitudinal research project called Coronavirus: Mental Health in the Pandemic. The University of Strathclyde is a partner in the study, which is led by the Mental Health Foundation; the University of Cambridge and Queen’s University Belfast are also partners.
“Our research is starting to reveal how the financial and employment inequalities caused and exacerbated by the pandemic are affecting people’s mental health,” said Lee Knifton, Director of Mental Health Foundation Scotland and Co-Director of Strathclyde's Centre for Health Policy.
“We have very concerning evidence that hundreds of thousands of people in Scotland are worrying about fundamental financial matters and their job security – both of which are closely linked to poor mental health.
“However, it is also important to recognise that within the overall picture, it is people who were already unemployed at the start of the pandemic who are being most seriously affected. It is disturbing that more than one in six people unemployed people surveyed say they have had suicidal thoughts and feelings within the last two weeks.
“Without further, rapid government action to improve people’s economic security, we can expect things to get worse, especially for the poorest. The financial inequalities that lead to increased and unequal rates of mental ill-health will be intensified - and the benefits of recovery and coming out of the lockdown will not be shared equally.”
Professor Alec Morton, Head of Strathclyde’s Department of Management Science and the University’s lead adviser on the project, said: ““Our research shows the scale of the psychological trauma which the country is facing and highlights that for many, this is mediated by real concerns about how to pay the bills.
“Tragically, much of the pain is being borne by those who were struggling to get by even before the pandemic hit. These findings challenge us as a society to come up with a collective response which is commensurate with the scale of the challenge.”
The latest survey asked people about their mental health and how they had coped in relation to the pandemic over the “previous two weeks.”