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NatCen researchers to investigate the financial and mental health impacts of Covid-19

13 July 2020

Researchers from the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) will assess the Covid-19 pandemic’s ongoing impact on people’s mental health and financial circumstances.

A team of researchers from NatCen and City, University of London was successfully awarded funding by the Economic and Social Research Council (ERSC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), following a call for projects looking at the impacts of the Covid-19 outbreak on society.

The project, led by Dr Neil Smith, Head of Analysis at NatCen, will examine which groups have been hardest hit by the immediate and longer-term financial and mental health impacts of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Using data from monthly updates to Understanding Society, the UK Household Longitudinal Study, researchers will assess how high-risk groups recover over time, and identify personal characteristics and interventions associated with a fuller or quicker recovery. The project will also examine the consequences of government policy such as the job retention (“furlough”) scheme.

Researchers will work with the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute to build up a picture of people who remain vulnerable and in need of additional support to recover after the initial peak of the pandemic, as well as to develop new understandings of how the mental health and financial impacts of the outbreak are related.

Project lead Dr Neil Smith said: “The Covid-19 outbreak has affected the wellbeing and finances of households across the UK. It’s vital we now assess the severity of those impacts and evaluate those policies aimed at protecting people from financial ‘shocks’ and their impact on mental health. Tracking the transition from short-term to longer-term impacts will help shape policy interventions aimed at reversing these negative effects during the anticipated recession.”

NatCen’s Chief Executive Guy Goodwin said: “This project will provide much needed insights into the longer-term impacts of the current pandemic on individuals. In the months and years to come, it’s important we are using our research expertise to explore the significant implications for society and to inform the public policy response.”

The team of researchers includes Dr Isabel Taylor, Research Director at NatCen, and Sally McManus, NatCen Associate and Senior Lecturer in Health at City, University of London.