Academics at Northumbria University, Newcastle, are investigating the effects of social distancing on mental health, quality of life and the use of social media amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

While public health measures such as social distancing are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19, it is widely acknowledged that these types of restrictions can make people feel isolated, lonely and can increase stress and anxiety.

Mental ill-health can have tragic effects on individuals, their families and communities, with one in every two people experiencing a mental illness at some point in their life. It also puts a significant strain on the economy, with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development estimating, before the pandemic, that mental ill-health costs the UK economy more than £94bn every year.

In partnership with the OsloMet University of Norway, the University of Michigan in the USA and the University of Queensland, Australia, researchers from Northumbria’s Department of Nursing, Midwifery and Health are asking members of the public to complete a 10-minute, online survey.

The responses will help the team to understand how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting our quality of life and mental health months after the initial lockdowns across the globe. The study will also look at how people are using social media to stay connected.

Dr Mariyana Schoultz, the project lead for Northumbria and Senior Lecturer in Mental Health, said: “We know that the lockdown and social distancing measures are influencing people’s life experiences. We’d like to find how much of an impact this is having on people’s lives in the UK, but also to see how that impact compares to other countries in the world such as Norway, the USA and Australia.

“This information will be of huge importance for social and healthcare workers as well as policy makers, and will hopefully influence how we deliver much-needed support services for people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The survey is open to anyone in the UK who is over the age of 18. It is completely anonymous and does not include any questions that can identify the respondent either by name, email address, telephone number, or other means of identification such as IP addresses.

Anyone interested in taking part in the research can access the survey here.

More detailed information for participants is available here.