COVID-19 crisis leads to shift in public attitudes about the role of the state - The Rugby Observer

COVID-19 crisis leads to shift in public attitudes about the role of the state

Rugby Editorial 16th Jul, 2020   0

Research published by the Health Foundation finds the COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased public recognition of the role of the state in supporting good health.

Nearly 9 in 10 people (86%) now believe the national government has a ‘great deal’ or ‘fair amount’ of responsibility for ensuring people generally stay healthy, significantly up from 61% in 2018. Similarly, 76% see local government as having responsibility for people’s health (up from 55% in 2018).

The survey also shows that over three-quarters (77%) of British people are concerned about the impact of social distancing on the health and wellbeing of the nation, a figure that rises to 83% among over 65s.

The survey sheds light on a range of health and wellbeing challenges people faced during the height of lockdown, such as finding it harder to communicate with friends and family (47%), struggling to get basic food items (54%), household goods (49%) and essential medication (24%) and access green space (33%), which may be driving increased recognition of the role of the state.

The research, undertaken in May, also indicates that 46% of the population feel the crisis is affecting their mental health in one way or another.

While some of the negative experiences reported in the survey will lessen as lockdown eases, the Health Foundation warns that the financial impacts revealed in the survey risk affecting people’s health and wellbeing in the longer term. In particular, the representative survey highlights that:

  • Two fifths (41%) of people have experienced a negative or significantly negative impact on their income.
  • Significant numbers have had to dip into finance beyond their normal income, with 17% accessing savings and 12% using their overdraft as a result of the pandemic.
  • Young people have been particularly affected, with 23% of 18-24-year olds and 20% of 25-34-year olds already having borrowed, or considering borrowing money from family and friends, compared to 4% of those aged 65+.  

The Health Foundation has previously highlighted that measures necessary to control the spread of the virus are exacting a heavier social and economic price on some population groups over others. Government action is needed to protect the most vulnerable in the short term, but the Health Foundation calls on the government to do far more to improve health for all in the longer term.

Dr Jennifer Dixon, Chief Executive of the Health Foundation says: “This research shows that people increasingly expect and want protection from government at a time of crisis.

“They want protection not just to reduce the risks of avoidable illness, like COVID-19, but also avoidable economic hardship. Economic hardship, as we have seen from this pandemic, increases individual’s and community’s vulnerability to COVID-19. It also exacerbates ill health more generally and widens inequalities in health as we have seen in the last decade across England.

“As we move into the recovery phase, a cross government health inequalities strategy and action plan is needed now.”

To view the survey results in full click here.

Whether you’re concerned about yourself or a loved one, the following helplines and support groups can offer expert advice:

Anxiety UK

Charity providing support if you have been diagnosed with an anxiety condition.

Phone: 03444 775 774 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 10pm; Saturday to Sunday, 10am to 8pm)


Bipolar UK

A charity helping people living with manic depression or bipolar disorder.



CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15 to 35.

Phone: 0800 58 58 58 (daily, 5pm to midnight)


Men’s Health Forum

24/7 stress support for men by text, chat and email.


Mental Health Foundation

Provides information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities.



Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.

Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm)


No Panic

Voluntary charity offering support for sufferers of panic attacks and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Offers a course to help overcome your phobia or OCD.

Phone: 0844 967 4848 (daily, 10am to 10pm). Calls cost 5p per minute plus your phone provider’s Access Charge


OCD Action

Support for people with OCD. Includes information on treatment and online resources.

Phone: 0845 390 6232 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5pm). Calls cost 5p per minute plus your phone provider’s Access Charge



A charity run by people with OCD, for people with OCD. Includes facts, news and treatments.

Phone: 0333 212 7890 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)



Young suicide prevention society.

Phone: HOPELINEUK 0800 068 4141 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 10pm, and 2pm to 10pm on weekends and bank holidays)


Rethink Mental Illness

Support and advice for people living with mental illness.

Phone: 0300 5000 927 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4pm)



Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.

Phone: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)



Emotional support, information and guidance for people affected by mental illness, their families and carers.

SANEline: 0300 304 7000 (daily, 4.30pm to 10.30pm)

Textcare: comfort and care via text message, sent when the person needs it most:

Peer support forum:



Information on child and adolescent mental health. Services for parents and professionals.

Phone: Parents’ helpline 0808 802 5544 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4pm)



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