With recurring lockdowns and the ongoing spectre of COVID hanging over us, 2020 and early 2021 will go down in history as a particularly difficult time. But how has the past year impacted our lives? Here are some of the areas that have been most significantly harmed by the pandemic.
Mental health was unequally hit
According to the Mental Health Foundation, the pandemic had a significant effect on our mental health, though the severity of this was hugely impacted by our social and economic circumstances.
Those with smaller homes, who had less money and were in more insecure work were much more at risk of experiencing poor mental health and at catching COVID-19 themselves.
This meant certain groups were hit harder, including younger people, older people, people with pre-existing mental health issues, disabled people, and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities.
The last year has been difficult on our relationships. Couples who recently moved in together found out how compatible they were the hard way, though for married couples, being locked down together was in many ways much tougher.
According to Google Trends data, with each new lockdown – particularly in November 2020 and January 2021 – came peaks of Google searches for ‘divorces’. As a result, many people are likely to have been enlisting the help of divorce solicitors, and it will be interesting to see if this trend continues as restrictions are eased.
One of the biggest ways COVID affected out lives was its effect on our finances. Yes, while some people were able to save large sums of money due to not being able to spend, many were put on furlough at less than average levels of pay, or lost their jobs entirely. With a depressed employment market, jobs were scarce, only recently bouncing back due to lockdowns easing.
The effect of this has been huge. A study in May 2021 found that pandemic-related income loss caused higher rates of depression in multiple countries.
Communities came together
Though there certainly were plenty of negative impacts on our lives over the last year, there have been plenty of positives, the greatest of which has been the ability of people to come together and weather the storm as one.
There have been plenty of examples: the outpouring of support for key workers such as those in the health service has been amazing to see, and as older people have found themselves isolated, neighbours have chipped in to buy groceries, check in, and keep them from harm. We have all gained an appreciation for our societies and social contact in general, it having been taken away from us for so long.
2020-21 was a tough year, but things are getting better. How were you impacted last year, and how do you nee the coming year unfolding? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.