The role of the neighbourhood environment in shaping the mental health consequences of Covid-19


The aim of this proposed research is to test to what extent features of the neighbourhood environment moderate the mental health consequences associated with the coronavirus pandemic. While undoubtedly any mental health impact will be partly shaped by individual characteristics, we also posit that there will be differential vulnerability across people due to their neighbourhood environment. Simply put, our contention is that the impact of this pandemic on people's mental health is shaped not just by who they are but also where they live.

Our starting point is Understanding Society (UKHLS), a survey that collects online data relating to people's mental health. Each individual has a unique identifier meaning that we can track their mental health before, during and after the lockdown, and indeed monitor their mental health on an ongoing long-term basis.

Of particular importance for this project is the geographic identifier attached to each individual in the survey. This geographic identifier will allow us to identify the local authority in which each individual lives (391 of these in the UK) and through a special licence application, the lower super output area commonly referred to as the neighbourhood (over 32,000 of these in the UK). Using these identifiers, we will spatially link our longitudinal household survey datasets recording individuals’ mental health with a variety of publically available datasets relating to neighbourhood contextual information (e.g. economic and social deprivation, population density, environmental capital, health services etc.). This will allow us to identify what makes some neighbourhoods produce better outcomes than others.

Ultimately, our research will help in identifying those most vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic and in formulating place-based policy interventions aimed at protecting people’s mental health.

This project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), as part of UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to Covid-19.






Related project: The relationship between immigration and subjective well-being in the UK

Publications and outputs

Workshop on Mental Health and the COVID-19 Pandemic

Monday 4 April 2022
10:30 – 16:00 
This is an online workshop, Zoom details will be provided once you have registered through the Eventbrite link below. 


10:30 – 10:40 Welcome and introduction to the workshop, Gaston Yalonetzky, University of Leeds
10:40 – 11:20 Session 1: Does worker well-being adapt to a pandemic? An event study based on high-frequency panel data, Clemens Hetschko, University of Leeds
11:20 – 12:00 Session 2: Locked down in distress: a causal estimation of the mental-health fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, Lina Anaya, University of Bradford
12:00 – 12:40 Session 3: The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health-related quality of life: a cross-sectional survey of 13 high and lower middle income countries, Mara Violato, University of Oxford
12:40 – 13:40 Break for lunch
13:40 – 14:20 Session 4: The impact of COVID-19 on mental health inpatient activity in England, James Gaughan, University of York
14:20 – 15:00 Session 5: Mask wearing and wellbeing during the pandemic: overcompliance, compliance and undercompliance, Alan Piper, University of Leeds
15:00 – 15:40 Session 6: The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted both school bullying and cyberbullying, Andrew Bacher-Hicks, Boston University
15:40 – 16:00 Farewell
Any questions about the workshop should be emailed to Gaston Yalonetzky (