Skip to main content

Mental health consequences of COVID-19

Professor Jon Bisson talks to us about the likely mental health consequences of COVID-19, as well as treatments and how to help prevent negative mental health consequences as a result of the pandemic.

We also have some resources and downloads available.

What are the likely mental health consequences of the COVID-19 crisis?

The COVID-19 crisis is challenging for everyone and people will respond to their experiences in different ways.

Common, normal reactions are likely to include positive emotions such as a feeling of togetherness and hope, along with negative emotions such as anxiety and lowered mood.

Some people are likely to develop more severe reactions, including grief, anxiety and depressive disorders and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).


Will the Covid-19 crisis cause PTSD?

The majority of people are not likely to develop Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Complex PTSD (CPTSD) to the COVID-19 crisis but some people will.

For many people, the experience will not involve exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury or sexual violence (as required for a diagnosis of PTSD).  It will, however, involve other potentially very stressful and distressing experiences such as social isolation, shielding, financial loss, job loss and being exposed to situations that may result in infection.

Some people will be exposed to very traumatic experiences during the COVID-19 crisis, particularly threat to life and actual death and develop PTSD as a result of this.


Who are the most at risk of developing mental health problems as a result of Covid-19?

The factor most likely to place people at higher risk of developing mental health problems as a result of Covid-19 is the severity of their experience during the crisis.

For example, people who have been very unwell themselves or experienced a relative being very unwell or having died will be at increased risk of PTSD and a traumatic grief reaction.  Frontline health and social care staff are also likely to be at increased risk of PTSD due to their exposure to very traumatic events as part of their work.

People who have had other very distressing experiences such as financial loss and job loss will be at increased risk of anxiety and depression.

In addition to the nature of the experience, other factors likely to increase risk include previous mental health difficulties, difficulties dealing with stressful situations in general and, very importantly, a feeling of not being socially supported.


Are treatments available if I do develop mental health problems as a result of Covid-19?

A wide range of different interventions and treatments are available to people who develop PTSD and other conditions as a result of Covid-19.

Helpful links for this can be found in NCMH’s leaflets.


Can the negative mental health consequences of Covid-19 be prevented?

There are a number of very positive actions that can be taken to reduce the risk of developing negative mental health consequences.  These include eating healthily, maintaining social relationships, regular exercise and engaging in relaxing activities.  The Mental Health Foundation and MIND  have produced some helpful advice and information and advice on this.


Other resources


National Centre for Mental Health, Cardiff University, Hadyn Ellis Building, Maindy Road, Cardiff, CF24 4HQ

+44 (0)29 2068 8401
The National Centre for Mental Health (NCMH) is funded by Welsh Government through Health and Care Research Wales | Privacy Policy