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Researchers appeal to public for help to assess mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

Scientists are appealing to the public for help to assess the mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the aim to inform and improve future policies concerning pandemics.

Researchers appeal to public for help to assess mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

The Repeated Assessment of Mental health in Pandemics (RAMP) study from researchers at King’s College London aims to measure the mental health and wellbeing of the population throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and examine what factors influence these changes.

The researchers will look at contextual, psychological and behavioural factors that may affect risk and resilience to mental health problems during the pandemic. The questions will assess symptoms of common mental health disorders, in both individuals with and without existing mental health problems. They will also examine how life circumstances such as loneliness and employment, thought processes such as distracting oneself when worried, and self-care behaviours such as yoga or exercise, are affecting these symptoms. 

The RAMP study is UK wide and open to any residents of England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland who are over the age of 16 and have access to the internet. This study is in partnership with MQ, the UK’s leading mental health research charity.

How to take part:

  • Sign up via the RAMP study website
  • Complete an initial questionnaire – this will take 35-40 minutes
  • Complete a shorter 10-15 minute follow-up questionnaires every two weeks, and occasional 1-2 minute questionnaires after major government announcements 
This research is crucial in understanding how unprecedented measures which have disrupted life as we know it, affect the mental health of the population. Knowledge resulting from this study can help us create better strategies and policies that safeguard our mental health, should a similar pandemic arise in the future.– Dr Katherine Young, NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre Lecturer, IoPPN, King’s College London

Professor Thalia Eley, Director of the Emotional Development, Intervention and Treatment (EDIT) Lab, IoPPN, King’s College London, added “There are lots of different ways people are looking after themselves during this pandemic, and we are very interested in understanding whether particular strategies work better for some than others, and how these relate to our current and past mental health experiences”. 

Dr Helen Munn, Acting CEO, MQ: Transforming Mental Health, says “There is growing recognition that the mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will be significant for us all – for those with existing mental health conditions and for everyone affected by stress, anxiety, isolation, loneliness, family pressure and financial hardship.

MQ is pleased to partner with the RAMP study, which will systematically collect high quality evidence on mental health during the crisis and, importantly, seek to understand the effectiveness of different interventions. This study forns a key part of the mental health research response to Covid-19 and will be an important contribution to mapping and addressing the near- and long-term mental health impacts”.

The researchers received funding for the study through the King’s Together Rapid COVID-19 call, a pilot funding scheme from King’s College London which aimed to engage rapid research on the disease.

The RAMP study research team includes Dr Katherine Young (PI), Dr Kirstin Purves, Shannon Bristow MSc, Professor Gerome Breen, Professor Thalia Eley and Professor Matthew Hotopf. Several of the team are wholly or partially supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). 

Keeping the participants information secure is our top priority. This data will be held securely (in line with new data regulations) and will only be accessed by a limited number of approved researchers. We comply with a number of regulations and policies to ensure data is protected. The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was put in place to ensure the protection of all EU citizens’ data privacy. It also gives people the rights to access any information held about them.

For more information and to take part, please visit the RAMP Study website.

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