Over half of adults in Ireland believe that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative or very negative impact on their mental health and general wellbeing, a new survey has shown.
The survey was carried out by Mental Health Reform, a coalition of over 70 organisations working in this area. It worked in collaboration with the COVID-19 Psychological Research Consortium (C19PRC), a group of mental health researchers from universities in Ireland and the UK, who are conducting projects to understand the mental health effects of the pandemic.
The survey found that 51% believe that the pandemic has had a negative or very negative impact on their mental health and wellbeing.
Among those who use mental health services, 37% feel that the pandemic has had a negative or very negative impact on the quality of that service.
Almost 75% agreed or strongly agreed that the pandemic will have long-term implications for the mental health and wellbeing of society, while almost 80% agreed or strongly agreed that mental health services require additional resources to deal with the impact of COVID-19 on mental health.
Some 75% believe that the Government should develop a mental health strategy specifically to address the impact of the pandemic.
"The survey data highlights the huge support that exists among the general public for a significant boost in resources for mental health services and supports across the country.
"Some 80% of people who took the survey agreed that charity and voluntary organisations require additional resources to deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health, while less than a quarter of people agreed that the Government has done enough to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health," explained Mental Health Reform CEO, Fiona Coyle.
She pointed out that there has been a "huge surge" in demand for mental health services during the pandemic - services which were already overstretched beforehand.
"An urgent response from the Government is necessary if this demand is to be met. While we are encouraged to see mental health reflected in the proposed Programme for Government, what is clear is that significant leadership and resources will be required if the mental health services that the public expect are to be delivered.
"It is critical that we see an implementation group for our new mental health policy set up within the first month of Government, to ensure our services recover after COVID-19 and are capable of meeting increased demand," Ms Coyle said.
According to Dr Phillip Hyland of Maynooth University's Department of Psychology, who leads the Irish arm of the project, this survey has shown that at a minimum, one-third of people in the population are experiencing serious mental health difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In particular, young adults and women are exhibiting "worryingly high levels" of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder, he noted.
"The mental health response to this public health crisis must take account of the fact that it is the youngest adults in society who are suffering the most with their mental health at this time. These findings align with international data that is now emerging and it demands significant attention from public health officials," he commented.
The survey involved 1,032 adults nationwide, aged between 18 and 85. For more information on the findings, click here. For more information on Mental Health Reform, click here.
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