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COVID pandemic's mental ill health legacy likely to be greater, longer

Full length of lonely young woman looking away while sitting on green grid window against white background Source: Digital Vision

Length of the COVID pandemic, with its recurrent lockdowns and financial strain, means the toll on mental health will be widespread.

Retrospective studies found over 10 per cent of those who worked in the SARS outbreak, or were affected by the disease, showed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Bureau of Statistics ((ABS)) figures show one in five Australians are reporting high or very high levels of psychological distress linked to the pandemic. 

In Victoria the figure is even higher, with 27 per cent of the population struggling to cope.

A recent survey by the ABS shows each surge of COVID leads to greater mental health impacts, with the recent Victorian outbreak leading to almost one third of people reporting feelings associated with depression and anxiety.

Those most affected are women, younger Australians and those with pre-existing mental health conditions.

Dr Stacey Harris says in her experience, the mental health effects of the virus don’t decrease when the case numbers drop.

“Things sort of got back to normal January or February but I was still seeing people who didn’t get help last year with the lockdowns and saying, I know it’s after the fact but I’m really suffering, I really suffered last year in the lockdowns and that just kept going.”

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SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at https://www.sbs.com.au/language/coronavirus

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