In the year since restrictions began in the UK on 23 March 2020, Samaritans provided emotional support over 2.3 million times to people struggling to cope, by phone and email. One in five of these contacts were from people who were specifically concerned about coronavirus. This report brings together analysis of anonymous Samaritans’ service data from calls and emails, and primary research with our listening volunteers, which took place at 7 different points during the year since restrictions began. The report also includes a secondary analysis of findings from focus groups with Samaritans volunteers on the dedicated helpline for NHS and social care workers in England and Wales, as well as analysis of a subset of data collected as part of the UK COVID-19 Mental Health & Wellbeing study, which was part-funded by Samaritans and led by researchers at the University of Glasgow (MHWS).
Coronavirus has affected the lives of people contacting Samaritans in many ways. The report demonstrates that:
Concerns about coronavirus in contacts to Samaritans peaked in April 2020 and have generally mirrored the timing of UK lockdowns, with coronavirus a more common concern in times of tighter restrictions.
Since restrictions began, there was a 12 per cent increase in calls between the hours of 2am and 6am, compared to the previous year.
Calls about coronavirus lasted an average of 24 minutes, which was 40 per cent longer than other calls (average of 17 minutes).
There was a rise in calls lasting 30 minutes or longer in the first months of restrictions in the Republic of Ireland, especially 1am - 6am