New report shows mental health deteriorates in isolation but resilience helps to cope

Neami National was one of seven community managed mental health organisations who contributed to a research survey that examined the impact of COVID-19.

08 Apr 2021

A new report on a survey compiled by leading Australian mental health service providers shows COVID-19 has had an adverse impact on the mental health of those already experiencing issues relating to their mental health. However, existing skills and resilience helped to cope with isolation.

The survey, conducted by seven Australian community managed mental health service providers, assessed the impact of COVID-19 on people accessing these services. The online survey ran between June and July 2020. The survey and subsequent report were codesigned and coproduced with people with lived experience of a mental health issue or psychosocial disability. The findings draw on 738 responses from people around Australia.

The community managed mental health sector have welcomed the insight the report provides on the impact of COVID-19 on people living with severe and enduring mental ill health issues.

Tom Dalton, Neami National CEO said, “Over half of the people who responded to the survey said they had experienced a decline in their mental health since COVID-19.”

“The impacts associated with physical distancing and changes in social connections, along with a lack of access to specialist and community support services were cited as significant contributors to worsening mental health.“

Almost 70% of consumers reported having to stay at home as a contributing factor in the deterioration of their mental health. They also reported a lack of access to mental health services contributed to an increase in symptoms, with one-third not being able to access a support group during the pandemic. 

“Amongst the pain there was also power. Around 40 per cent of people reported previous experience in managing their own mental health has helped them cope through the pandemic,” said Tom Dalton.

“The ability to manage adversity should be encouraged and celebrated. Survey results indicated a high level of resilience amongst people who access psychosocial support services. This is proof of the value of psychosocial support. However, the current system is overstretched and underfunded and not everyone who could benefit from support is receiving it. 

“Now, more than ever, we need greater investment in support services which help people to build on their skills so that they can stay well, thrive in the community, and be resilient – even in isolation.”

Download Resilience in Isolation: The impact of COVID-19 on Australians with a lived experience of mental ill health (PDF)

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