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The impact of strict lockdowns on the mental health and well-being of people living in Australia during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic

Version 2 2024-06-20, 00:42
Version 1 2024-05-09, 01:30
journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-20, 00:42 authored by AMY Goh, C Dang, R Wijesuriya, KE Lamb, MG Panisset, P Gartoulla, E Tan, F Batchelor, B Brijnath, B Dow
Background There are limited longitudinal studies on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health and well-being, including the effects of imposed restrictions and lockdowns. Aims This study investigates how living in a pandemic, and related lockdowns and restrictions, affected the mental health of people living in Australia during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Method A total of 875 people living in Australia participated in a longitudinal survey from 27 May to 14 December 2020. This time period includes dates that span pre-, during and post-wave 2 lockdowns in Australia, with strict and sustained public health measures. Linear mixed models were fitted to investigate the effect of lockdown on depression and anxiety symptoms. Results Symptoms of depression and anxiety improved over time, during and after lockdowns. More adverse mental health symptoms were observed for people with a history of medical or mental health problems, caring responsibilities, more neurotic personality traits or less conscientiousness, and for people who were younger. People who reported being more conscientious reported better mental health. Conclusions Despite notoriously strict lockdowns, participants did not experience a deterioration of mental health over time. Results suggest a lack of significant adverse effects of lockdown restrictions on mental health and well-being. Findings highlight cohorts that could benefit from targeted mental health support and interventions, so that public policy can be better equipped to support them, particularly if future strict public health measures such as lockdowns are being considered or implemented for the COVID-19 pandemic and other disasters.

History

Journal

BJPsych Open

Volume

9

Article number

e90

Pagination

e90-

Location

Cambridge, Eng.

ISSN

2056-4724

eISSN

2056-4724

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Issue

3

Publisher

Cambridge University Press

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