Psychological impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on society

Conducted by Refugee Workers Cultural Association (RWCA)

 Wedge House
White Hart Lane
London N17 8HJ


It is true that pandemics have been seen in various periods throughout history. Before we begin the analysis of our research, we must define pandemics. They are diseases that cause millions of people to die and can have negative effects on society; economically, politically, socially and of course psychologically. Pandemics disrupt all ways and processes of living, from work, to private spheres of households to education. Not only do pandemics effect the groups of people of those directly medically affected by the pandemic, but also those who watch the news and follow up on the pandemic through social media. It is valid to state that pandemics such as Covid-19 leave significant marks on the memories of society, leaving historic and permanent impacts. The consequences of such pandemics can be abysmal and rather infinite. Although the direct effects of such pandemics can be measured as personal, the disease does eventually influence and effect whole social circles. Social and cultural phenomena of the disease attribute greatly to the psychological effects of the pandemic, and to a great extent 10 Downing Street have done little to battle these.

The Covid-19 outbreak, which is known to have emerged in China spread through the entire global like wild fire, and so far, can be seen to have constituted a breaking course in history, both socially and psychologically. From the first official case on the 11th March 2020 till now, with over 181 million cases and 3.94 million deaths, the impact of the pandemic has been immense, and little has been done to bring some clarity and solution to these psychological effects.

There is currently a new phenomenon known as the ‘pandemic brain’ also mentioned on many platforms by many established psychologists. Experts have said that the prolonged stress of the pandemic and many lockdowns has had an effect on everyone’s cognitive functioning, the effects of the pandemic on non-English speaking has been greater. From the disruptions in routines, to life-threatening experiences the pandemic has effected societies neurobiology. Upon ethnic groups the social isolation and loneliness has had profound impacts across multiple regions of their brains. On top of the stresses of living a migration life, not being in their comfort zones, they have now also not been able to socialise with their families and friends.

For diaspora groups such as the Kurdish, Turkish community the effects of the covid-19 pandemic have been greater. Little assistance has been made available for such diaspora groups, and without the initiative of their own local community groups and their organisers, these communities have struggled to cope with both the economic, social and psychological effects of the pandemic. It must not be mistaken, the economic effects of the pandemic upon these groups are not isolated from the social and psychological impacts. Of course, Covid-19 has been a devasting pandemic on all of humanity, however with non-English speaking diaspora groups the effects have been almost double, and this can be seen with the research completed by the RWCA

Summary of Key Findings

The research was completed with 99 individuals, 76% was women and 21.5% were men, with 2.5% from the LGBTQ+. 53.8% were between the ages 36-45, 20% were in the 26-35 age group, and 20% were 46-55 years of age. The following findings were found from the survey completed.

General psychological state

While 9% of the participants stated that their mental health condition is very good, 26% stated that they had a fair mental health situation. 29% of the participants stated that their mental health was fair and 29% poor. 6.5% of those who completed the survey commented that currently their psychological state was at despair. Most mirrored that the yearlong effects of the pandemic meant that there has been no break or change in their situations, both private and public sphere. Some commented that the ongoing delay of the lift of restrictions keeps bringing them to stage 1 of their psychological healing process.

How often have you felt depressed and unhappy in the last year?

While 48% of the participants stated that they have felt depressed or unhappy very often, 38% stated that they felt depresses every now and then. While 9% felt depressed only very occasionally 5% of the participants stated that they faced no depression whatsoever.

Note: These psychological effects of the pandemic seemingly did not start until 3 months into the pandemic. It seems that most did not believe that the pandemic would last over year, and after 3 months it seemed more long lasting, with impact of unemployment, young people being placed on furlough, and older people being forced to isolate for longer, meant that they constantly felt depressed and unhappy after a few months into it.

How have your social relations/interactions been affected?

46% of those who participated in the survey responded that all their social relations and interactions were affected. While 35% stated that it has impacted most of their social relations, only 19% stated that Covid-19 had no impact or very minimal impact on their social relations. From family relations, to work/colleague relations as well as outer circle friendships. All kinds of social interactions were interrupted for over 81% survey takers, the tier system, national lockdowns all effected the social relations and these led to a constant feeling of despondency and hopelessness especially a few months into the pandemic, when things felt a lot longer lasting.

How has your psychology affected your work or ability to carry out a set task?

With the lasting psychological effects of the pandemic, the drowning effects were economically for 57%% of the surveyed. Individuals were lacking the spiritual motivation to carry out tasks. 19% of those that were surveyed stated that the pandemic has had some effect in terms of the hours they work or the motivation to carry out tasks. 20% stated that the pandemic had very minimal impact while only 4% stated that it had no impact whatsoever on their work or ability to carry out tasks.

In the last year what affected your psychology?

  • Not been able to see my loved ones


  • Being isolated from the outside world and social life
    • 37%%
  • Economic status
    • 14%
  • Unemployment
    • 6%
  • Disruption of kid’s education
    • 9%%

Do you think the Pandemic would have a long term impact on your mental health?

  • Yes


  • I don’t Know
    • 28%
  • Maybe
    • 1%
  • No
    • 9%
  • Disruption of kid’s education
    • 9%%

Do you think the end of the pandemic and lifting of the restrictions would have a positive impact on your mental health?

  • Yes


  • No
    • 3%
  • I don’t Know
    • 44%

Who did you receive the most support from during the pandemic?

  • Community organisers/community centres
    • 51%%
  • Local council
    • 5%%
  • Neighbours
    • 2%
  • Family and relatives
    • 2%%
  • Friends
    • 27%
  • Other
    • 13%

What were the most effective organisations you benefited from during this period?

  • Gov.UK
    • 13%
  • NHS
    • 9%
  • Councils
    • 2%
  • Voluntary Community Centres
    • 40%
  • I did not befit from any organisations
    • 36%

The above are just examples of the 25 questions asked in the survey and was intended to be an answer to the non-English speaking diaspora community in Haringey and therefore was completed in Turkish for the purpose of clarity. Considering the effects of pandemics especially Covid-19 on groups of people such as the ethnic Turkish, Kurdish groups, the answers to these questions illustrate to us that firstly the effects of the pandemic are long-lasting; the psychological effects cannot be isolated but are linked to economic and social impacts of the covid-19 pandemic and most importantly within the 15 months period of the pandemic which is ongoing State institutions such as local councils have been of no use and has had no positive reliance or impact on the community as a whole, information has been weak and the unknown future continues to relay these psychological matters diaspora communities are going through due to the pandemic.

Where friends, family members and neighbours have proven to be the reliance society has had, State organisations such as local councils have been of no use in firstly educating society on the pandemic instead of infiltrating fear and fighting the social and cultural phenomena on illegitimate social media platforms. Covid-19 has proven the devastating effects pandemics can have psychologically and have negative consequences in people’s mental wellbeing.


Covid-19 has been a devastating pandemic that has deeply affected humanity as an entirety. People’s psychology has been impacted day by day leading to a circle which seems for those people undefeatable. To minimise the psychological effects of the pandemic on society and specifically diaspora groups, non-English speaking groups the following have been suggested as recommendations through this survey to battle the psychological effects of the pandemic:

  • Introduce local stand ups in respect of social distancing, with Turkish speaking individuals, educating individuals on the basics of covid-19.
  • Introduce free helplines, with translators – phone friend concept
  • Organise local funding for supporting families and individuals in economic restraint due to unemployment.
  • Arrange local meetings with local organisers and/or community centres to improve the talking relation between them.
  • Organise local home visits
  • Conduct education on the proactivity of the vaccine in the Turkish and Kurdish-speaking community.
  • Local councils should organise physical activity opportunities as this increases neuroplasticity
  • Local Councils could create playlists on their website as listening to music lowers stress levels which is good for the resilience of the brain. These playlists can be made accessible for free.
  • Council’s should make it more accessible for communities to practise mindfulness and meditation, make space for this in their local spaces.
  • Councils should employ in partnership with local community centre’s link workers for direct contact with the community in their own language.