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Lockdown: impact on women’s mental health revealed

The lockdown has led to three quarters of women wanting help and advice for anxiety, depression or loneliness, a new study by Grazia and Instagram has found.

Lockdown: impact on women’s mental health revealed
Lucie Cave: “Lockdown has meant our ‘Where’s Your Head At?’ campaign has become even more important in finding ways to support and become the mouthpiece for our audience.” Photograph: Maria Victoria Heredia Reyes on Unsplash

The study is part of Bauer Media’s Where’s Your Head At? campaign and aims to promote an honest and open discussion of mental health this Mental Health Awareness Week.

The ‘Life after Lockdown’ study conducted by Grazia and Instagram revealed that three quarters of women aged 25-54 want help and advice for anxiety, depression or loneliness caused by lockdown and the coronavirus crisis. Nearly half (47%) said that lockdown has had a negative impact on their mental health, with 49% stating that they found being isolated and feeling lonely particularly challenging.

As part of the Where’s Your Head At? campaign, the survey spoke to women across the UK to understand their feelings about their mental health, relationships, sex, work, fashion, hobbies and money, almost two months into lockdown. Whilst money and work have proved challenging for many, women across the country have found joy in new hobbies, passions, social media and improved relationships.

When speaking about mental health, over half (57%) noted that they want people to be kinder to each other and over a third (35%) plan to take greater care of their mental health when “normal life” resumes, showing a clear desire for positivity and compassion to be top of the agenda in life after lockdown. One in ten women (11%) said they turned to social media for mental health support during lockdown and over a third (37%) said that social media was their greatest source of inspiration during this time, proving how platforms like Instagram and supportive communities online can help during isolation, says Bauer Media.

Another area that has seen huge changes for many women since the start of the pandemic is in their working lives. More than half (54%) noted that lockdown has led them to think about making a big change in their working life, with almost two thirds (63%) reassessing their work/life balance. Half also want to work from home more often after lockdown lifts, highlighting some of the cultural and societal changes people will come to expect when “normal life” returns.

The study also highlighted a shift in what women will prioritise and how they will spend their time once lockdown is over. Almost half agreed that they wanted the current slower pace of life (46%) and the increased sense of community (47%) to carry on after lockdown lifts. Romance however may be taking less of a priority, as more than two thirds of single women said they do not use dating apps, and lockdown has not made them more determined to meet someone.

Commenting on the findings, Hattie Brett, Grazia Editor said: “It’s clearly a challenging time for a lot of young women in the UK today – with the impacts of the pandemic having a detrimental effect on mental health. This research with Instagram has allowed us to identify our readers’ new worries, behaviours and needs; responding to them with pertinent content. I hope our focus on helping our audience manage their mental health and make fundamental changes to their lives will offer practical advice but also reassure them they are not alone.”

Lucie Cave, Creative Editorial Director, Bauer Media, added: “Lockdown has meant our ‘Where’s Your Head At?’ campaign has become even more important in finding ways to support and become the mouthpiece for our audience. Their worries about finding a better work/life balance and managing their mental health by maintaining a slower pace of life are crucial insights to helping shape the sort of content they want and need from us across all of our brands.”

Sinead Purcell, Head of UK Communications, Instagram commented: “Whether you’re having a good day or a bad day, picking up a new hobby, or simply sharing your latest baking adventure - finding others who are going through the same thing and knowing you’re not alone can help. And with experts like @dr.chris.george and @drchatterjee offering professional advice for people dealing with anxiety, to accounts like @mentalhealthmates building a virtual support network through Lives, Instagram is helping people find support when they need it most and keeping them connected to the people and things they love.”

The ‘Life After Lockdown’ survey is just one of the actions Grazia and Instagram are taking to raise awareness of mental health to help people maintain a healthy mindset this Mental Health Awareness Week. Starting today, Grazia will be hosting daily ‘Where’s Your Head At? Presents: ‘Get (Your Head) Together with Grazia’ sessions on IGTV, providing tips and discussions around mental health, featuring special guests such as Alice Liveing, Trinny Woodall and Mother Pukka.

Other Bauer Media brands across its publishing and radio portfolio are also helping to shine a light on mental health. Yours recently launched Yours Minds; a campaign that aims to normalise mental health, remove taboos and encourage conversation among the 50-80 age group who tend not to talk about their feelings. KISS has launched KISS BLISS, 20 minutes of chillout anthems that start from 6.10am every morning, to help listeners unwind, chill, focus and get ready for the day ahead. KISS presenter Tyler will also focus his weekly afternoon show on ‘taking a moment’ with different mental health experts across the week. And on Wednesday for Tyler’s Twitch session, he will be joined by fellow KISS host Michael to chat about how gaming has helped them both stay connected. This Sunday, Absolute Radio will be airing 'Time to Listen’, a four-hour special show where presenters will play the songs which have had the biggest impact on their mental health journey, exploring how music soundtracks the highs and lows of life.

Looking forward, Scala and Magic radio are also running special programming for ‘Mindfulness Monday’ on 28th May with special content around gardening, cooking, headspace and birdsong – key themes that have also emerged from our study. Where’s Your Head At? will also be partnering with Radiocentre and Heads Together by supporting the Mental Health Minute across all Bauer stations at 10.59am on Monday 18th May 2020.

The research was conducted by Censuswide in April 2020, with 3,010 general respondents aged 16+ in the UK, including over 1,000 women aged 25-54. The sample was weighted to be nationally representative of UK adults on age, gender and region. Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles, says Bauer Media.