Hundreds of thousands of Scottish adults have felt panicked and afraid because of the Covid-19 pandemic, a new survey suggests.
The YouGov poll of 1,015 people, conducted between March 17 and 19, has raised concerns about the potential long-term impact on mental health.
It found 21% of Scottish adults felt panicked and three in 10 felt afraid because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mental Health Foundation Scotland now plans to use the poll to identify specific areas of need and target effective advice and help to tackle issues arising from the outbreak.
Associate director Julie Cameron said: “This poll was carried out before full lockdown was introduced.
“Even at that stage there were clear indications that the pandemic was beginning to have a significant impact on the nation’s mental health.”
“The concern is that the longer these levels of mental health problems continue the worse they become for many people.”
She added: “Among the issues we will need to monitor going forward is impacts on levels of trauma, suicidal thoughts and mental health vulnerability.
“That is why it is incredibly important that we act now. We are not powerless.
“There are many things we can do individually and collectively to tackle and prevent mental health problems with much help and advice available.
“We also want to reassure people that it’s OK to feel stressed or anxious at this time and it is highly likely that many of your co-workers, family and friends will be feeling the same way.
“That means over the coming months, it’s going to be crucial that we’re all able to talk openly and honestly about our mental health.”
More than one in seven people felt hopeless, 11% felt loneliness, while 52% were concerned about the impact of being separated from friends and family.
The poll also shows 64% have felt anxious or worried.
Mental Health Foundation Scotland is analysing data it has collected on the impact of financial worries, loss of control, underlying health problems, discrimination and family separation.
The charity now plans to recommission the poll at regular intervals to track change over time.
It is also looking at people’s willingness to volunteer and show empathy with others.