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Impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on well-being


In the year ending March 2021, average ratings of well-being have deteriorated. This is continuing a trend that was seen in the previous year, but even more sharply, and which notably takes place entirely during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

One in six adults experienced some form of depression in summer 2021 (21 July to 15 August, Great Britain), compared with one in ten before the pandemic (July 2019 to March 2020). Younger adults, women, disabled adults, unemployed adults, those who could not afford an unexpected expense of £850 and adults living in the most deprived areas of England were more likely to experience some form of depression.

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Well-being

Personal well-being measures deteriorated in the year ending March 2021

Average personal well-being ratings, UK, years ending March 2012 to March 2021

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In the year ending March 2021, average ratings of well-being have deteriorated. This is continuing a trend that was seen in the previous period, but more sharply during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Recent declines in average well-being ratings are the greatest seen since measurements for life satisfaction, the feeling that the things done in life are worthwhile, happiness and anxiety began in the ‘Annual Population Survey.’

Last updated: 15/10/2021

Read more about this in Personal well-being in the UK: April 2020 to March 2021

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See how trends in personal well-being measures have changed in your local area

Average ratings, UK, years ending March 2012 to March 2021

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Search your local area or select a line in the chart to see how personal well-being measures for life satisfaction, the feeling that the things done in life are worthwhile, happiness and anxiety have changed over time (years ending March 2012 to March 2021).

Please note that due to small sample sizes and large confidence intervals, caution should be taken when comparing estimates for local authorities.

Last updated: 15/10/2021

Read more about this in Personal well-being in the UK: April 2020 to March 2021

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Almost 6 in 10 (57%) of adults who may have experienced long COVID reported it had negatively affected their general well-being. Ability to exercise (39%) and work (30%, this was 38% among working adults only) were the next most common ways such adults reported long COVID was negatively affecting their life.

Adults with long COVID include those that have had a positive test for COVID-19 or believed they have had COVID-19 and responded either “yes” or “not sure” to the question ‘Have you experienced “long COVID”?’.

Last updated: 21/07/2021

Read more about this in Coronavirus and the social impacts of ‘long COVID’ on people’s lives in Great Britain: 7 April to 13 June 2021

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All personal well-being levels were poorer among those who reported experiencing long COVID

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Adults who reported they may have experienced long COVID had poorer personal well-being levels compared with those who had short COVID or not had COVID. This difference was greatest for anxiety levels, with 4.6 for those who had long COVID compared with 3.8 for those who had short COVID or not had COVID. Those experiencing long COVID also had lower mean life satisfaction, feeling that the things done in life are worthwhile, and happiness.

Those who had long COVID were also more likely to report being often or always lonely (10%) than those who had short COVID (6%) or not had COVID (6%).

Last updated: 21/07/2021

Read more about this in Coronavirus and the social impacts of ‘long COVID’ on people’s lives in Great Britain: 7 April to 13 June 2021

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Mental health

One in six adults experienced some form of depression in summer 2021, compared with one in five in early 2021

Percentage of adults with moderate to severe depressive symptoms, Great Britain, July 2019 to August 2021

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In summer 2021 (21 July to 15 August), one in six (17%) adults experienced some form of depression. This is a decrease since early 2021 (21%, 27 January to 7 March) but is still above pre-pandemic levels (10%).

Last updated: 01/10/2021

Read more about this in Coronavirus and depression in adults, Great Britain: July to August 2021

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In summer 2021, rates of some form of depression declined across most population groups but remained higher than pre-pandemic levels

Percentage of adults with moderate to severe depressive symptoms, Great Britain, July 2019 to August 2021

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Younger adults and women were more likely to experience some form of depression. Disabled adults were more likely to experience moderate to severe depressive symptoms than non-disabled adults. Adults who reported being unable to afford an unexpected but necessary expense of £850 and adults living in the most deprived areas of England were more likely to experience some form of depression. Unemployed adults were twice as likely to experience moderate to severe depressive symptoms than those who were employed or self-employed.

Last updated: 01/10/2021

Read more about this in Coronavirus and depression in adults, Great Britain: July to August 2021

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In summer 2021, adults aged 16 to 29 years were most likely to experience some form of depression (26%), while adults aged 70 years and over were the least likely to (9%). Women were more likely than men to experience some form of depression across all groups aged under 70 years. Around one in three (32%) women aged 16 to 29 years had moderate to severe depressive symptoms in summer 2021 compared with 20% of men of the same age.

Last updated: 01/10/2021

Read more about this in Coronavirus and depression in adults, Great Britain: July to August 2021

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In summer 2021, the most commonly reported impacts of the pandemic on life by adults experiencing some form of depression were well-being (74%), lack of freedom and independence (44%) and access to healthcare and treatment for non-coronavirus related issues (40%).

Last updated: 01/10/2021

Read more about this in Coronavirus and depression in adults, Great Britain: July to August 2021

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Suicide rates decreased in the early months of the pandemic

  • There was an 18% decrease in suicides that occurred between April and July 2020 in England and Wales, when compared with the same period in 2019.

  • There were 1,603 suicides between April and July, which is equivalent to an age-standardised mortality rate of 9.2 per 100,000 people.

  • The drop in suicides was mainly driven by decrease in male suicide rates.

  • The age-specific suicide rate decreased for most age groups compared with the same period in the previous year.

Last updated: 02/09/2021 

Read more about this in Deaths from suicide that occurred in England and Wales between April and July 2020

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Further information


In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey was adapted to collect data on the social impacts of the pandemic. It includes insight into the impact of the pandemic on people's well-being. The data shows these impacts among different parts of our society, for example, on people of different age, sex, health or from regions. Data are collected using an online self-completion questionnaire. The results are weighted to be a representative sample for Great Britain.

To find out more about well-being data visit our more information page.

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Latest insights team
infection.survey.analysis@ons.gov.uk