Survey Shows 80 Per Cent Of Kiwis Feel Psychologically Distressed Due To The Effects Of Covid-19
New survey results released today by online mental health resource "Out of the Fog" has shown that more than 80 per cent of kiwis are experiencing psychological distress as a result of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Despite our transitioning into Alert Level 3 this past week more than half of the 557 survey participants reported challenges relating to the Covid-19 pandemic - the most common being job uncertainty. Isolation has also proved to be a significant contributing factor towards psychological distress as social distancing restrictions continue.
Since lockdown, nearly half of the survey participants were experiencing anxiety. Other commonly reported symptoms include irritability, difficulty sleeping, and poor concentration. More than one-third said their work performance had deteriorated or they felt a reluctance to work.
Director of "Out of the Fog" and mental health expert Kristina Paterson says this is not surprising given what we know from studies following past outbreaks such as SARS:
"International studies have shown that mental health is significantly affected after the first week of self-isolation, so we would expect to see significant psychological distress given we are going into our sixth week of lockdown even with the slight lifting of some restrictions. We know that stressors like significant financial loss, struggling to afford basic needs such as food or electricity, job uncertainty or redundancy are risk factors for mental illness, but the effects of isolation itself can lead to trauma-related illnesses."
Similar results from UK Polls during the Covid-19 pandemic have prompted UK researchers to push for an immediate response to growing mental distress amongst Britons, and Paterson believes that New Zealand needs to do the same.
She welcomes, therefore, the announcement on the 24th April for free mental health and addiction services to be made available for an additional 1.5 million people in 9 District Health Boards alongside the 15 million dollars spent on e-therapies and online apps and the $1.9 billion dollar rollout of services over the next 5 years. "We need to get ahead of what could well become a mental health crisis of which we've never experienced before even with our suicide rates increasing every year including last year. Our primary and secondary services both need a funding boost in talk therapies and our mental health system has been crying out for this for years. We just need to make sure that we are sending clear messages that enable people to self-identify their need for additional support, that there is a clear, comprehensive pathway to getting help no matter which route they choose and that we have options available to them that are effective.
In the wake of a pandemic, Paterson believes New Zealand has no time to lose, and needs to get this underway as soon as possible.
"Out of the Fog" will again measure the psychological effects of Covid-19 in one month's time.