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Changes in mental health and help-seeking among young Australian adults during the COVID-19 pandemic: A prospective cohort study

Upton, E, Clare, P J, Aiken, A, Boland, V C, De Torres, C, Bruno, R, Hutchinson, Delyse, Kypri, K, Mattick, R, McBride, N and Peacock, A 2021, Changes in mental health and help-seeking among young Australian adults during the COVID-19 pandemic: A prospective cohort study, Psychological medicine, pp. 1-9, doi: 10.1017/S0033291721001963.

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Title Changes in mental health and help-seeking among young Australian adults during the COVID-19 pandemic: A prospective cohort study
Author(s) Upton, E
Clare, P J
Aiken, A
Boland, V C
De Torres, C
Bruno, R
Hutchinson, DelyseORCID iD for Hutchinson, Delyse orcid.org/0000-0003-3221-7143
Kypri, K
Mattick, R
McBride, N
Peacock, A
Journal name Psychological medicine
Start page 1
End page 9
Total pages 9
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Place of publication Cambridge, Eng.
Publication date 2021
ISSN 0033-2917
1469-8978
Keyword(s) Anxiety
Australia
coronavirus infection
COVID-19
depression
mental health
prospective cohort
treatment
young adults
Summary Background
Young people may have elevated risk for poorer mental health during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, yet longitudinal studies documenting this impact are lacking. This study assessed changes in mental health and help-seeking since COVID-19 restrictions in young Australians, including gender differences.
Methods
Data were drawn from a recent subsample (n = 443; 60% female; Mage = 22.0) of a prospective cohort originally recruited in secondary school to complete annual surveys. The subsample completed an additional COVID-19 survey during COVID-19 restrictions (May–June 2020), which was compared to responses from their latest annual survey (August 2019–March 2020). Mixed effect models with time and gender as the primary predictors were conducted for: (i) scores on the Patient Health Questionnaire Depression 9-item (PHQ-9) and Generalised Anxiety Disorder 7-item (GAD-7) modules assessed before and during COVID-19 restrictions, and (ii) self-reported help-seeking from a health professional in February 2020, and the month preceding May–June 2020.
Results
Mean symptom scores increased from before to during COVID-19 restrictions on the PHQ-9 (coefficient: 1.29; 95% CI 0.72–1.86) and GAD-7 (0.78; 95% CI 0.26–1.31), but there was no increase in help-seeking over time (odds ratio 0.50; 95% CI 0.19–1.32). There was no evidence of differential changes by gender.
Conclusions
This study found increases in depression and anxiety symptoms but not greater help-seeking among young Australian adults during the first wave of the pandemic. Increasing availability and awareness of accessible treatment options and psychoeducation is critical, as well as further research into risk and protective factors to help target treatment to this vulnerable age group.
Notes FirstView Article
Language eng
DOI 10.1017/S0033291721001963
Indigenous content off
Field of Research 1109 Neurosciences
1117 Public Health and Health Services
1701 Psychology
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Free to Read? Yes
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30151436

Document type: Journal Article
Collections: Faculty of Health
School of Psychology
Open Access Collection
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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.