Studies highlight mental health impact of Covid-19

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Studies are beginning to highlight the mental health impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Irish population. Ranging from early last year at the start of the crisis to February of this year, the research emphasises the worrying effects of the pandemic on Ireland’s collective mental health.

A national survey on the psychological distress caused by the pandemic, for instance, found that “entry into COVID-19 quarantine was associated with significant increases in clinically significant symptoms of depression, stress, and anxiety”.

These findings have been corroborated in a multi-wave study conducted by the Centre for Global Health during March and April of last year, which found that 23% of respondents “reported clinically meaningful depression”, while 20% “reported clinically meaningful anxiety and 18% reported clinically meaningful post-traumatic stress”.

Moreover, a survey of 195 psychiatrists in Ireland found that referrals for anxiety, depression and panic have all increased since the onset of the pandemic. Similarly, a HSE report highlights the increase in traffic to online and telephone mental health services, with traffic to website Yourmentalhealth.ie increasing an incredible 490% between March and July of last year.

Although the rollout of the vaccine bodes well for the fight against Covid-19, research from the Central Statistics Office conducted just this February suggests that Irish people are still struggling to cope with the ongoing crisis. The Social Impact of Covid-19 survey carried out by the CSO found that 57.1% of respondents’ mental health has been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, while 41.7% rated their overall life satisfaction as low.

Over 60% of the respondents “believe that once current level 5 restrictions are eased that similar restrictions will be reimposed by the end of the year”.

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