Clearly COVID-19 has been a public health crisis on an unprecedented scale. In this chapter we focus less on the immediate physical health impacts of the virus itself – areas which have been widely discussed by those with extensive expertise – and instead look at the impact of the pandemic on wider health and wellbeing. In short, how has the crisis affected our collective ability to live healthy and fulfilled lives?
We look at these impacts and the emerging opportunities through the lens of three time horizons:
- Right now – the current situation and the emergency response. The virus and attendant mitigation measures have proved a psychological shock to many and made traditional support mechanisms impossible. What alternatives can we implement immediately?
- What next? – the transitional restart for issues relating to wellbeing in the post-lockdown, pre-vaccine period. What are the opportunities to capitalise on and sustain the upswing in ‘active mobility’ modes (walking, cycling etc)?
- Beyond recovery – a look further into the future ahead in this area.
Horizon 1 – Right Now
Immediate market impacts and shifts from the outbreak – and the possibilities they signal
Mental Health Impacts and Opportunities
The pandemic has had a highly detrimental impact on mental health across Europe, with the proportion of people reporting that they feel depressed doubling from 6-13% since the outbreak. This is unsurprising, given the wide-ranging limitations on people’s daily lives, anxiety about their health, economic uncertainty, and the difficulty in staying close to friends and family because of physical-distancing rules.