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COVID-19 Lockdown Rules Linked to Poorer Mental Health

The lasting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health has been a subject of increasing concern. A recent study by academics at Bangor University sheds light on an unexpected finding: individuals who adhered most strictly to COVID-19 lockdown rules are now experiencing the worst mental health outcomes.

This article explores the key findings of the study, delving into the personality traits that influenced adherence to pandemic restrictions and the subsequent mental health challenges faced by different individuals.

The Mental Health Impact of COVID-19 Lockdown Rules
(Representative image)

The Mental Health Impact of COVID-19 Lockdown Rules

Compliance and Mental Health:

The research conducted by Dr. Marley Willegers and colleagues at Bangor University reveals a paradoxical relationship between adherence to lockdown rules and mental well-being. Surprisingly, those who closely followed the recommended protocols during the pandemic are now more likely to be suffering from stress, anxiety, and depression. The study involved 1,729 participants in Wales during the first UK-wide lockdown from March to September 2020.

Personality Types and Compliance:

The study identified two main personality types – "communal" and "agentic" – influencing adherence to lockdown measures. Communal individuals, characterized by being caring, sensitive, and aware of others' needs, were more likely to strictly follow the rules. In contrast, agentic individuals, who are independent, competitive, and value control over their lives, were less likely to exhibit such behaviors.

The Impact of Fear:

The fear of catching COVID-19 played a dual role in shaping behavior. While it effectively drove compliance, the study found that this fear had negative consequences on individuals' well-being and recovery. The fear of infection created lasting disturbances in mental health for those with communal personalities.

Post-Lockdown Transition:

The study suggests that the transition from the strict lockdown mode to normalcy was challenging for some individuals, particularly those who had adhered rigorously to health advice. The lack of a comprehensive messaging campaign during the post-pandemic period left certain personality types grappling with anxiety and infection prevention behavior, hindering their mental well-being.

Expert Commentary:

Experts from the Centre for Mental Health thinktank express deep concern over the enduring poor mental health experienced by those who complied with pandemic restrictions. The fear, loss, and trauma generated by the pandemic continue to have a lasting impact, exacerbated by the absence of social solidarity as others deviate from the same restrictions.

Addressing Mental Health Challenges:

The CEO of the Centre for Mental Health, Andy Bell, emphasizes the need for targeted government health campaigns that consider different personality types. The study recommends that future campaigns should highlight both the personal costs and benefits of adherence to pandemic restrictions, rather than solely focusing on responsibility to others.

The Lingering Legacy:

Mark Winstanley, CEO of Rethink Mental Illness, underscores that the legacy of the pandemic persists, as individuals who took significant steps to protect themselves and others now grapple with enduring impacts on their mental health. The disruption, uncertainty, and lack of control during the early days of the pandemic continue to fuel anxiety and low mood.


The Bangor University study provides valuable insights into the intricate relationship between compliance with COVID-19 restrictions and subsequent mental health outcomes. As societies strive to move beyond the pandemic, it is crucial to recognize and address the diverse psychological responses to public health measures. Tailoring future interventions to different personality types could be a pivotal step in mitigating the long-term mental health effects of the COVID-19 era.


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