As the pandemic continues to dominate our lives, people are being asked to share their experiences as part of ongoing research into how the Welsh are coping with coronavirus.
Wales Wellbeing, led by Swansea University’s Professor Nicola Gray and Cardiff University’s Professor Robert Snowden, was launched last June to examine just what impact Covid-19 is having on the mental health and emotional wellbeing of Wales.
With backing from all seven Welsh health boards, the unique project’s findings will be used to help the NHS in Wales to not only understand the issues affecting the population in Wales, but also to shape support services for the future.
More than 15,000 people across Wales took part in the project’s initial survey and the findings led the researchers to conclude that Wales faces a wave of mental health problems in the wake of Covid-19.
They discovered that younger adults, women and people from deprived areas were suffering the most. Around half of the participants showed clinically significant psychological distress, with around 20 per cent suffering severe effects.
Now the researchers are interested to see whether the ongoing pandemic has resulted in a further decline in the population’s mental wellbeing, whether there is stability in the levels of psychological distress, or whether mental health has returned to pre-Covid-19 levels.
Professor Gray said: “This is very important research. After carrying out just one survey we were able to identify serious issues that will have long-term implications for all of us in Wales.
“We had tremendous support from the people of Wales and we are hoping that they will be willing to continue to be part of this vital project. Don’t worry if you did not participate in the survey from June last year, we still want to hear from you.”
The Wales Wellbeing research group also consists of Dr Chris O’Connor, Divisional Director of Mental Health and Learning Disabilities at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board with assistance from marketing professional Stuart Williams and Swansea University PhD students James Knowles, Jennifer Pink and Nicola Simkiss.
This latest survey, which is open until February 20, is entirely anonymous and asks participants to provide information on subjects such as ongoing concerns they may have, how their financial position has been affected by Covid-19 or if they have had to cancel major events such as weddings or holidays.
Professor Gray added: “However, we are also keen to find out if there have been positive experiences, so we are asking if people to tell us what, if anything, they have been able to enjoy during our time living with coronavirus – perhaps having more time with family or to appreciate their surroundings?”
The findings of this and subsequent surveys will be given to each Welsh health board so they can be used to see where and what kind of support is needed and by which sectors of the population.