DP16195 COVID-19 and Mental Health: a Longitudinal Population Study from Norway

Author(s): Hans K Hvide, Julian Johnsen
Publication Date: May 2021
Keyword(s): mental health, primary care, psychological disorder, psychological symptoms
JEL(s): I18, I19
Programme Areas: Labour Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=16195

Existing research has found negative short-term consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health problems, but longer-term effects have been less documented. Using newly released register data on all general practitioner consultations in Norway through 2020 (about 14 million consultations in total), we find that during the spring and early summer 2020, the number of psychological cases initially increased relative to prior years, but then fell back towards the level of prior years during the summer 2020. In early September 2020, the number of cases accelerated, a pattern that held up through December 2020, so that the gap between 2020 and prior years became largest end-of-year. Our findings suggest that the accumulated effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health far exceeds the short-term effects. The effects were particularly strong for females and for residents in urban areas.