COVID-19 and the Blitz compared: mental health outcomes in the UK.

The Blitz narrative of resilience stands in contrast to the mental health risks identified as consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although evidence from then-classified studies of World War 2 showed that most people managed the stress of bombing, those vulnerable and exposed to substantial trauma had lasting or severe mental illness. Studies of different towns and occupational groups identified the proportion of people killed and wounded, the percentage of housing destroyed, and the loss of paid employment as risk factors for psychological breakdown. Mothers and children suffered not only with evacuation, but also from the trauma of bombing and damage to schools. A general association between civilian physical and psychological casualties suggests that population groups with high rates of infection and mortality might be susceptible to mental illness as a result of the pandemic. Lockdown and distancing measures contrast with the wartime sense of belonging and shared identity, reinforced by community networks and social activities.


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Authors: Edgar Jones