Mental health impact of COVID-19

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Mental health impact of COVID-19 (955KB PDF)

The potential for the COVID-19 pandemic to impact mental health and wellbeing was recognised early in the pandemic (WHO 2020a). In addition to concerns around contracting the virus itself, some of the measures necessary to contain its spread were also likely to negatively impact mental health (NMHC 2020). Widespread restrictions of movement and physical isolation, or ‘lockdowns’, were implemented in some jurisdictions from March 2020. In addition, the overnight loss of employment and social interaction, as well as the added stressors of moving to remote work or schooling, has impacted the mental health of Australians. Stress, confusion and anger are commonplace (Brooks et al. 2020) and, while many people will not experience any long-term concerns, COVID-19 has the potential to contribute to or exacerbate long-term mental ill health including depression and/or substance misuse (WHO 2020b).

AIHW has been assisting the Australian Government Department of Health to curate, analyse and report on COVID-19 mental health-related activity data to governments on a weekly basis since April 2020. Data reported includes information from the Medicare Benefits Schedule, Australian Government-funded Help Lines (Lifeline, Beyond Blue, Kids Helpline), and analysis of emerging key research messages. There is a national and a jurisdictional version of the mental health COVID-19 reporting dashboard.

This MHSA section summarises the activity reported via mental health COVID-19 dashboards as at 27 September 2020. It will be updated quarterly during the life of the pandemic.