Health Services Investigation

Researchers from the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences (NDPCHS) and Bocconi University in Italy discovered that mental health in the United Kingdom deteriorated in the two years following Brexit, especially for younger men, well-educated, and natives in “Remain” areas.

A study performed by senior NDPCHS researchers investigated change in mental health in the United Kingdom following the 2016 EU referendum (Brexit).

Brexit has increased job and financial  insecurity, increased the risk of a recession, reduced possible economic growth, and increased hate crimes and discrimination, according to studies. However, the health implications of Brexit are not understood fully, particularly in the medium term. Brexit’s increased social and economic uncertainty may have harmed the UK population’s well being and mental health. Previous research focused on the immediate impact of Brexit and discovered a general decline in well-being after the referendum.

This study used the UK Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS), a panel data poll of 40,000 UK households, to compare levels of well being and mental health between 2014 to 18. That would be, 2 years before and 2 years after Brexit vote. An index of mental health questions was used to create the first mental health measure. Individuals were asked how frequently emotional problems (like feeling downhearted or depressed) caused them to finish less and work less thoroughly in the previous weeks, as well as how often they felt peaceful and calm, depressed, or downhearted. The 2nd measure of mental health was acquired using the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ), in which persons answered 12 questions about how frequently they were able to focus, lost sleep owing to worries, felt they had a useful role, and were able to take decisions in the previous few weeks, among other things.

The present study demonstrates that mental functioning and mental health in the United Kingdom declined on average in the 2 years post referendum. The referendum results disproportionately affected young adults (31–46 yrs), men, natives, and educated professionals who live in places in which more than half of voters supported being in the EU. The findings show a general decline in mental health in 2 years after the 2016 referendum. Also after controlling for regional factors and demographic, these findings remained significant. The research adds to the body of knowledge by demonstrating that mental health decline appears to be heterogeneous and long-lasting across regions and socioeconomic profiles.

This finding has had significant implications in policy and mental health care services because they enable them to identify the individuals most impacted by Brexit in terms of mental health requirements. Moreover, it adds to the evidence of a decline in general mental health as a result of Brexit and the resulting economic uncertainty, while also demonstrating the population’s long-term effects.

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