Overcrowded housing has helped to spread Covid-19 in England and may have increased the number of deaths, according to research by the Health Foundation.
People living in cramped conditions have been more exposed to the coronavirus and were less able to reduce their risk of infection because their homes were so small, the thinktank found. Overcrowding was a key reason why poorer people and those from ethnic minority backgrounds in particular had been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, it said. Health Foundation researchers also concluded that overcrowding, together with other housing problems such as damp and insecure tenancies, had led to a rise in physical and mental health ailments.
“While some have weathered lockdown in large homes with gardens and plenty of living space, others have struggled in overcrowded and unsafe conditions. Overcrowding is associated with the spread of Covid-19, making self-isolation more difficult and allowing the virus to spread through more people if one becomes infected.” Adam Tinson, a co-author of the analysis and a senior analyst at the thinktank, explained.
The coronavirus crisis poses the greatest threat to mental health since the second world war, with the impact to be felt for years after the virus has been brought under control, the country’s leading psychiatrist, Dr Adrian James, the president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, warned.
A combination of the disease, its social consequences and the economic fallout were having a profound effect on mental health that would continue long after the epidemic is reined in. As many as 10 million people, including 1.5 million children, are thought to need new or additional mental health support as a direct result of the crisis. About 1.3 million people who have not had mental health problems before are expected to need treatment for moderate to severe anxiety, and 1.8 million treatment for moderate to severe depression, it found.