MORE than two in five people in Fife who say the coronavirus pandemic has affected their well-being put it down to “lockdown loneliness”, new figures suggest.

Mental health charities have called for people’s mental health and wellbeing to be made a priority in the recovery from Covid-19.

An Office for National Statistics survey conducted between October and February asked people aged 16 and over if their wellbeing had been affected in the last seven days by the pandemic. Of those in Fife who said it had, 43 per cent attributed this to being lonely – across Britain, it was 38.6 per cent.

The ONS said young people were more likely to suffer from this form of “lockdown loneliness”.

Tom Madders, director at mental health charity YoungMinds, said young people have experienced loneliness and isolation as Covid-19 has limited their social lives, education, or led to job losses.

“It’s important young people know where to go to get support for their mental health if they are struggling and that they can access help as soon as they need it,” he added.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, we’d like the government to introduce a national network of early intervention hubs, with one in every community, where young people can find mental health support and advice on education and employment.”

The survey also found that 5.3% of adults in Fife said they felt lonely “often” or “always”, although the ONS cautioned that this was based on a small sample of the local population.

The average across Britain was 7.2%, up from around 5% when a similar survey was carried out between April and May last year.

Areas with younger populations and those with higher unemployment rates tended to see increased levels of loneliness, the latest research found.

The feeling was also more pronounced in urban areas than rural locations.

But places with strong local businesses and adult education fared better on average.