The COVID-19 pandemic has changed every aspect of life as we know it. But how have these changes impacted us? There is an urgent need for research exploring this.
Two weeks ago, 24 leading mental health experts published a call for action for mental health research (you can read the full paper in Lancet Psychiatry here). They describe the immediate need for real-time monitoring of mental health across the whole population, in order to understand the impact of public health measures, such as social distancing.
Researchers at KCL have teamed up with the charity MQ to directly answer this rapid response call. They have launched the The Repeated Assessment of Mental health in Pandemics (RAMP) Study, to assess the impact of the pandemic on the mental health and wellbeing of the UK population. This crucial research aims to inform interventions that support good mental and neurological health, and improve future policies concerning pandemics. Here we answer some commonly asked questions about the study and discuss the importance of this research.
Who can take part in the RAMP Study?
RAMP is open to everyone in the UK aged 16 or over. We are interested in the experiences of people from different backgrounds, from all around the country. It does not matter how the pandemic has affected you, whether in a positive way, negative way, or not at all. It is important that a range of experiences are represented. The study is completed online and all you need to sign up is a UK postcode and an email address.
What sort of questions do you ask in the survey?
We are researching the impact that the pandemic has had on mental health, wellbeing and neurological ‘brain’ health, and what factors might influence these changes. We ask about how you are thinking, feeling and behaving now, and how this compares to before the pandemic. We also ask some questions about how the pandemic has affected your day-to-day life, to help us put your answers into context. This includes questions about your job, living situation, family and health. If you don’t feel comfortable answering all the questions, you can leave them blank and skip to the next one.
What is this research important?
This situation we are living in is very unusual, and there are lots of different ways in which people are responding. Many of us have never lived through a situation like this, and we don’t yet know the impact it may have on our wellbeing and brain health. Completing this research can help us to identify helpful and unhelpful behaviours, policies and strategies. This will help us work out how to react to help and support individuals and communities. To do this, we need high-quality research that can inform evidence-based interventions for promoting good mental health. Although many of us feel stuck right now, we can help make a difference by contributing to this essential research.
What does taking part involve?
We ask participants to complete a baseline survey when they sign up, this can take up to 30-40 minutes. During the pandemic, we will send a shorter 10-15 survey every two weeks to help us identify any changes. Once the situation becomes more stable, surveys will be sent once a month. We may also send occasional 1-2 minute surveys after major government announcements. Questionnaires will be sent for up to six months after the lifting of social distancing restrictions.
How will my data be protected?
Keeping participants’ information secure is our top priority. All responses are held securely (in line with new data regulations) and will only be accessed by a limited number of approved researchers. We comply with a number of regulations and policies to ensure data is protected. The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was put in place to ensure the protection of all EU citizens’ data privacy. It also gives people the rights to access any information held about them.
What will happen to the results of the project?
The results of the project will be summarised in academic research papers. Due to the nature of the topic, it is likely that our research will be used to inform government policies, both nationally and internationally. We anticipate that published results will be available for general viewing in scientific journals both in print and online. We will inform participants if this occurs.
How do I sign up?!
Visit the RAMP Study website and click ‘Participate’!I’d like some more information?
If you are struggling you can contact the Samaritans day or night if you need someone to talk to without judgement.