Mental Health Impact of COVID
7 September 2020 by Nes Demir
Make no mistake the pandemic is hurting and harming many within our family and workplaces. Here is the latest data available on the impact of the pandemic.
A survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed over 40% of Australians had experienced feelings associated with anxiety and depression between mid-July and mid-August. Again, these feelings were more prominent in women and those aged 18 to 64 years. Only 17% of those who had experienced such feelings discussed them with a doctor or other health professional.
According to the Black Dog Institute, those with pre-existing anxiety disorders and mental health problems, health care workers, in quarantine and unemployed or employed on a casual basis are at a higher risk of experiencing these feelings.
For health care workers and other front-line workers, these feelings may be caused by burnout. Burnout is commonly experienced by young registered nurses and by nurses who have higher patient numbers. Risks of burnout have been unsurprisingly heightened during the fight against the pandemic. They may also face emotional overload due to shortages of personal protective equipment and the fear of infection.
Parents are also at risk having experienced increased worry and stress with schools and childcare centers closing down. In a tracking poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in mid-July, over 65% of US parents expressed concern about their children falling behind socially, emotionally and academically. Approximately 50% expressed concern about losing income if they could not go to work or not being able to pay their children enough attention if they were working from home.
The reality of the pandemic and its impact on mental health is beginning to hit home more than ever. AIA Australia revealed call volumes at their super fund call centres have surged during the pandemic, particularly in relation to life insurance applications and other insurance covers, receiving between 6-12 months volume in a single month. Lifeline Australia is receiving approximately 3200 calls each day, compared to a daily average of 2500 in 2019. In Victoria, the mass business closures and strict curfews have led to a 20% increase in mental health crisis calls across various mental health support groups. Approximately 66% of the calls to Beyond Blue’s Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service are coming from Victoria.
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