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Inequalities in mental and social wellbeing during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has had profound impacts on mental health and social wellbeing across the whole social spectrum. Using cross-study data from five distinct birth cohort studies, researchers have examined how the pandemic has exacerbated inequalities in mental health issues for different generations.

Longitudinal population studies used:

Research findings

  • Covid-19 virus. Photo by CDC on UnsplashWhile mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, were more prevalent amongst younger generations prior to the pandemic, this generational divide widened throughout the pandemic.
  • Symptoms of depression in the first months of the pandemic were significantly higher among adults in their late teens and early twenties compared to older generations—even after taking pre-existing generational inequalities in mental ill health into account.
  • Women and those from socioeconomically disadvantaged groups showed worse mental wellbeing outcomes compared to men and those who were financially better-off. However, this gap does not appear to have widened throughout the pandemic.

Outcomes and impact

The findings of this research were disseminated through different means, tailored appropriately to the target audiences – policymakers, academics, and those with non-specialist knowledge.


These findings were disseminated in the form of written evidence submissions to multiple parliamentary committees as part of CLOSER’s submission to the Science & Technology Committee inquiry on emerging learnings from the pandemic, and the Joint Committee of the Draft Mental Health Bill.

While the research is still new, it has already contributed evidence to the draft Mental Health Bill 2022, emphasising the need for the system to take account of the inherent social nature of mental ill health and the inequalities experienced by different social groups. The Emerging Diseases and Learnings from COVID-19 Inquiry is yet to publish its final report.


Legislative committees


The journal article has gained significant attention within the academic community, with a high volume of paper views and citations for such a recent article.

Findings have been disseminated at the British Society for Population Studies conference, with the authors forming collaborative networks across academic departments at UCL.


Academic conferences, citations and networks


The findings of the research have been summarised as a blog to widen the reach to those with non-specialist knowledge. Both the blog and the academic paper have been promoted through social media platforms and has contributed to raising awareness about the continued inequalities in mental health impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.