This is how much our mental health went downhill during the pandemic

·Features and Health Editor
·3-min read

After it was revealed this week that Melbourne had become the most locked down city in the world, it is no surprise that the Covid-19 pandemic has had an alarming impact on many Australians.

Now, new research from mental health not-for-profit, WayAhead, has shone a light on just how much the pandemic has impacted on our mental wellbeing, with the average Aussie’s mental health deteriorating by 8 per cent from 2019 to today.

Beautiful young woman sitting at a window sill having rest
New research has showed the alarming impact the pandemic on our mental wellbeing. Photo: Getty

The study, released for Mental Health Month in October, found nearly half of Australians (49%) ranked lockdown as the main factor negatively impacting their mental health.

So understandably, Victoria (11%) and then New South Wales (9%) recorded the largest decline in mental health wellbeing.

The research also revealed Aussies aged between 18 - 24 were among the most vulnerable, reporting the lowest levels of relative mental health at the moment (58/100). 

While Those aged between 35 - 44 years of age saw the biggest shift in their mental health among any age group, with a decline of 9 per cent nationally.

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"The pandemic and resulting lockdowns have been hard for everyone, and experiencing distress is a natural response to a distressing, uncertain situation, and almost all of us will experience it at some point," Asha Zappa at WayAhead says.

"What is important is to recognise when mental health concerns negatively impact our ability to be the kind of person that we want to be, and to seek help and support in a way that is safe and accessible to you."

Young people from different cultures and race waiting
Younger Aussies saw the biggest decline in their mental wellbeing. Photo: Getty

Mental health and wellbeing just like physical health can change and be altered over time. Several external factors often impact an individual's mental health. 

Over the last 18 months, almost half (45%) of Australians said the lack of connection with family and friends has negatively contributed to their mental health. This was followed by borders being closed (33%) and health concerns (29%) as the primary factors impacting their state of mind.

In fact, 38 per cent of Aussies have seen an increase in negative thoughts as a result of the lockdown and pandemic. While two in five have noticed an increase in feelings of loneliness.

mental health research
Research also revealed Aussies aged between 18 - 24 were among the most vulnerable. Photo: Supplied

Asha believes that while the research findings are concerning, it shows why now more than ever we need to ‘tune in’ to our mental wellbeing - the theme of this year’s Mental Health Month. 

“While some Aussies may feel like there aren't many others experiencing this, this research shows that you’re most definitely not. These emotions and thoughts are completely natural and are the same feelings many others across the country are facing,” Asha said,

“We encourage you to tune in to your feelings and senses, ask yourself 'how do I feel?' or if that feels challenging even asking yourself 'what are some things I can touch/hear/taste/see right now?' can help when things are rough. 

"Understanding how you are feeling can be the first step towards finding things that help you get through tough times.”

exercising outdoors
Exersise and being outdoors are two things that benefit our wellbeing. Photo: Getty

Encouragingly over half of Australians (52%) have begun exercising more as a way to improve their wellbeing - getting a hit of happy hormones and chemicals in the body. 

A third of Aussies have channeled their energy into cooking (33%) and a quarter (28%) have returned to nature, trying their hand at gardening. 

Interestingly 28 per cent also said creating a routine helps with maintaining their mental wellbeing.

Mental health support for yourself or a loved one can be found by calling Lifeline on 13 11 14, Mensline on 1300 789 978, or Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800. Online support is available via Beyond Blue.

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