PEOPLE in the north of England suffered more mental health problems during the pandemic than those in the south — and the main cause was poverty, a study has found.
Research from Northern universities and NHS hospital trusts published today says a “parallel pandemic” of mental health problems has cost the British economy £2 billion.
The findings come from the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA), which includes 10 universities and 10 NHS hospital trusts.
Northerners were more likely to have developed psychiatric disorders and were prescribed more anti-depressant drugs than southerners.
Worst-hit were the north’s poorest communities — and in those communities women from ethnic minorities suffered worst of all, the report says.
Report co-author Dr Luke Munford, senior lecturer in health economics at the University of Manchester, said: “We have shown, again, that the pandemic was not equal — people in the North of England fared worse.
“We need to act urgently to address this or these unfair inequalities will grow and already hard-hit individuals — and us as a society — will unfairly suffer.”
Hannah Davies, co-author and health inequalities lead at the NHSA, said: “Increased deprivation in the North of England has added to a decline in mental health in the North of England over the course of the pandemic.
“The reasons for this are many: increased time spent in lockdowns, the type of work people in the North do, but the driving factor is poverty.
“To reverse these outcomes immediate action should be taken to provide funds to mental health suppliers proportionate to the need in those areas and measures to reduce deprivation — particularly as the cost-of-living crisis tightens its grip further on the most vulnerable.”