A public engagement survey by Public Health Wales has revealed that while people’s mental health, happiness and anxiety were hit hardest during winter 20/21, 70 per cent of those surveyed reported feeling happy by March 2022.

Throughout the pandemic, people over 75 were the happiest (76 per cent), compared with 58 per cent of 18-34 year olds saying they were feeling happy. More men (69 per cent) also reported being happy than women (64 per cent).

Worry about catching coronavirus also peaked around December 2020/January 2021 then fell substantially; coinciding with the rollout of the vaccination programme. It remained relatively low throughout the remainder of the survey time.

Between April 2020 and March 2022, Public Health Wales conducted a public engagement telephone survey to track how coronavirus and related control measures were affecting the public’s health and wellbeing.

Over the last two years, more than 27,000 Welsh residents have participated in the survey, with around 600-1000 residents participating in each survey round.

Karen Hughes, Policy and International Health, Public Health Wales, said:

“We want to thank the people of Wales for giving us their valuable time to support this work.

“The survey is part of a raft of measures implemented by Public Health Wales to support public health and wellbeing through Coronavirus and we couldn’t have done it without the participation of so many.

We will now use this information going forward to help inform both the ongoing recovery and future planning for pandemics.”

Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, Lynne Neagle said:

“Population surveys are an important element of the information we monitor to better understand the mental health impact of the pandemic. I recognise the wider challenges people are facing that can impact well-being, including financial uncertainty. It’s important that we go on talking about our mental health and seek support if needed. We continue to fund a range of support that can be accessed without the need for referral, either over the phone or online.”

Other key findings included:

  • Financial concerns were elevated in winter 2020/21. However, trends also show a steady increase in financial concern starting in summer 2021 and continuing through to the last survey in March 2022.
  • Residents from more deprived communities and younger adults are more likely to have reported worrying about their finances.
  • While confidence in the NHS’ ability to adequately care for them if they became seriously ill with coronavirus dipped in winter 2020/21, it was high throughout the rest of the pandemic with more than 60 per cent confident.
  • It was a similar picture for Welsh Government as most people agreed they had responded to the pandemic well, with a dip in Winter 2020/21.

The ‘How are we doing?’ public engagement survey included a range of core questions asked each survey round with other questions changing to address emerging issues. This report presents trends in responses to a selection of core questions over the two-year period, including: worry about coronavirus; mental and physical health; worry about finances; and perceptions of the national response. It examined differences in responses by deprivation, gender and age.