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Self-isolation increases risk of mental illness, study reveals

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Self-isolation could increase the risk of developing a mental health disorder, a major study has revealed.

The research, published by Swansea University, is among the first to explore the financial, social, and emotional impact of self-isolation.

Following a positive coronavirus test or close contact with someone who has tested positive, you are required to undertake a period of prescribed self-isolation. During this time, you should not see anyone or leave your property to prevent the spread of the virus.

However, more than half of people who have self-isolated say their mental health has been “negatively affected”.

This includes 46 per cent of people who reported feelings of anxiety, feeling down, or loneliness, as well as 34 per cent who struggled to adjust to a new routine.

One in five (20 per cent) also said they could not access usual support services, while 46 per cent could not stay active indoors.

Commenting on the paper, lead author Dr Simon Williams said: “We found that self-isolation was negatively impacting many people’s mental health.

“In many cases, losing that little bit of freedom, for example the ability to go out for exercise or to the shops for essential items, made a big difference to their emotional wellbeing. Although most people were able to get what essentials they needed from friends and family, self-isolation to some felt ‘claustrophobic’ or like being in ‘prison’.”

And with a quarter of participants also reporting that their income had been negatively impacted, the researchers believe the two could be linked.

“We recommend that all those being asked to self-isolate should receive more consistent advice and support across the board to help protect their financial security and mental health during self-isolation”, added Dr Williams.

The latest figures suggest that around one in four people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year, with the most common illnesses being anxiety and depression.