Coronavirus – Mental health difficulties common

By June Shannon Coronavirus News   |   17th Apr 2020

A new survey on how people in Ireland are coping with the coronavirus pandemic has shown that mental health difficulties are common

Mental health difficulties are common in the current coronavirus pandemic with almost half of those surveyed reporting to feeling lonely and others reporting clinically meaningful levels of depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress

These were some of the results of the first wave of the new Irish COVID-19 Psychological Survey; a multi-wave study which will run throughout the coronavirus outbreak and aims to better understand how people are responding, understanding, and coping with the pandemic.

More than 1,000 adults in the Republic of Ireland completed the survey, which was launched on 31 March; 31 days after the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was reported here and two days after Irish residents were required to stay at home.

Participants answered questions about their current circumstances in the pandemic, their mental health, and their views on coronavirus vaccination.

" Women are experiencing higher levels of depression and anxiety whereas men are experiencing higher rates of post-traumatic stress.”

Dr Philip Hyland , Maynooth University

Initial results suggest that mental health problems are common; 41 per cent of those surveyed reported feeling lonely, 23 per cent reported clinically meaningful levels of depression, 20 per cent reported clinically meaningful levels of anxiety, and 18 per cent reported clinically meaningful levels of post-traumatic stress.

The survey was carried out by researchers from Ireland at Maynooth University and the Centre for Global Health, Trinity College Dublin; Northern Ireland at Ulster University, Scotland at Edinburgh Napier University, and England at the University of Sheffield.

Dr Philip Hyland of Maynooth University said, “We’re seeing high rates of mental health problems like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress, and these problems are affecting men and women differently. Women are experiencing higher levels of depression and anxiety whereas men are experiencing higher rates of post-traumatic stress.”

“Nearly half of the people surveyed were feeling lonely and those people with higher levels of loneliness were most likely to experience adverse mental health problems. We also found that younger people, those who have a tendency to think in catastrophic ways, those who fear being infected by COVID-19, and those who have had someone close to them infected by COVID-19 are at a higher risk of mental health problems,” he added.

“ Despite encouraging results in terms of people’s knowledge on COVID-19, we further found that attitudes towards the uptake of a potential COVID-19 vaccine to be worryingly low,"

Dr Frédérique Vallières, Director , Trinity College’s Centre for Global Health

Dr Frédérique Vallières, Director of Trinity College’s Centre for Global Health further said, “Despite encouraging results in terms of people’s knowledge on COVID-19, we further found that attitudes towards the uptake of a potential COVID-19 vaccine to be worryingly low, with only 65% of people indicating that they would accept a vaccine for themselves and their children. One-in-four people did say however that they might accept a vaccine for themselves and their child, compared to one-in-ten people who said they would not. A better understanding of why people might be hesitant to accept a COVID-19 vaccine, if and when it is developed is required.”

The second wave of the COVID-19 Psychological Survey is scheduled to commence prior to the 05th of May. The research team will examine what effect prolonged quarantine and physical distancing measures have on people’s mental health and wellbeing, and what can be done to safeguard the mental health of the nation during this and any future health emergency. The research team will also seek to understand more about COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy.

Meanwhile the Minister for Health Simon Harris TD recently launched a mental health and wellbeing initiative to support people during COVID-19 crisis.

This campaign, developed by the Department of Health and HSE, in collaboration with a range of cross-Government partners, offers support and resources to help deal with the stress, anxiety and isolation currently experienced by many in Ireland.

For more information and support please see gov.ie/together and YourMentalHealth.ie.

We are here for you

The Irish Heart Foundation’s nurse support line is available five days a week. Anyone living with heart disease and stroke who has concerns or questions about the coronavirus can contact the nurse support line on 01 668 5001 or support@irishheart.ie.

The Irish Heart Foundation’s new heart support group is on Facebook. Anyone who lives with heart failure or another heart condition or has a family member living with a heart condition can join here: www.facebook.com/groups/heartsupportnetwork/

The Irish Heart Foundation runs 21 stroke support groups and 5 heart failure groups around the country. All these groups have moved to telephone and online support. For more information, see https://irishheart.ie/get-support/.

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anxiety coronavirus Covid-19 depression mental health

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