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ObjectivesThe number of people testing positive for Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-COV-2) in the UK, particularly among young adults, is increasing. We report here on the mental health of young adults and related psychological and behavioural responses to the pandemic and consider the role of these factors in fuelling the increase in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in this group.MethodsAn online survey was completed during the first six weeks of the first UK-wide lockdown by 3097 respondents, including data for 364 respondents aged 18-24 years. The survey included measures of mental health and indices capturing related psychological and behavioural responses to the pandemic.ResultsThe mental health of 18- to 24-years-olds in the first 6 weeks of lockdown was significantly poorer than that of older respondents and previously published norms: with 84% reporting symptoms of depression and 72% reporting symptoms of anxiety. Young adults also reported significantly greater loneliness and reduced positive mood, both of which were also associated with greater mental health difficulties.ConclusionsWe contend that the combination of mental health, social and economic considerations may have contributed to the rise of COVID-19 infections in young adults, and ascribing blame to this group will not aid our efforts to regain control of the disease.

Original publication




Journal article


Public health

Publication Date





158 - 161


Division of Primary Care, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD, UK.


Humans, Adolescent Behavior, Depression, Anxiety, Loneliness, Mental Health, Anxiety Disorders, Communicable Disease Control, Adolescent, Female, Male, Young Adult, Surveys and Questionnaires, United Kingdom, COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2