Covid’s effect on mental health not as great as first thought, study suggests

Pandemic resulted in ‘minimal’ changes in symptoms, according to review led by McGill University researchers. Photo: Pexels

(Rachel Hall/ The Guardian) — Covid-19 may not have taken as great a toll on the mental health of most people as earlier research has indicated, a new study suggests.

The pandemic resulted in “minimal” changes in mental health symptoms among the general population, according to a review of 137 studies from around the world led by researchers at McGill University in Canada, and published in the British Medical Journal.

Brett Thombs, a psychiatry professor at McGill University and senior author, said some of the public narrative around the mental health impacts of Covid-19 were based on “poor-quality studies and anecdotes”, which became “self-fulfilling prophecies”, adding that there was a need for more “rigorous science”.

However, some experts disputed this, warning such readings could obscure the impact on individual groups such as children, women and people with low incomes or pre-existing mental health problems. They also said other robust studies had reached different conclusions. (…)