While the majority of adults in Ireland believe that moving to level 5 of the Government's COVID-19 plan in October was appropriate, this appears to have had a big impact on mental health and wellbeing, with 36% rating their overall life satisfaction as "low", a new survey has found.
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) carried out a survey to assess the social impact of COVID-19, specifically looking at people's wellbeing during level 5 restrictions. The entire country was in level 5 for six weeks until November 30.
According to the findings, in November 2020, 36% of people rated their overall satisfaction with life as "low", compared with 30% in April 2020 and 9% in 2018.
The survey also found that the percentage of people who said that they felt depressed or downhearted "all" or "most of the time" jumped from 5.5% in April 2020 to 11.5% in November 2020.
Meanwhile the percentage of people who reported feeling lonely "all" or "most of the time" jumped from 7% in April to 14% in November.
However, 72% of people felt that level 5 restrictions were an appropriate response to managing the virus. Some 18% thought it was too extreme, while 10% did not think it was sufficient.
When asked if there was an aspect of their lives that had changed for the better since the pandemic began, 29% said that they now spend more quality time with the people they live with. Some 19% of workers said they spend less time commuting, while 19% said that their finances had improved.
When asked what length of time they think it will be before their lives return to something similar to how it was pre-COVID, just 7% felt this would take less than six months, while 4% think this will never happen.
Some 45% believe it will take one-to-two years, 33% think six-to-12 months, while 11% think two years or more.
According to statistician, Claire Burke, these findings highlight the impact that COVID-19 is having on society. She noted that while 36% of people rated their overall life satisfaction as "low", this rose to 42% in the 18-34 age group.
Among the 12% who felt depressed or downhearted "all" or "most of the time" in November, this figure was much higher among women (16%) compared to men (7%).
"Analysis by age shows that respondents aged 18 to 34 were most likely to report being downhearted or depressed "all" or "most of the time" (19%) increasing from 11% in April 2020.
"Those aged 55-69 and 70 years and over were least likely to report being downhearted and depressed "all" or "most of the time" (around 6% for both groups)," Ms Burke said.
The survey also found that people believed they were less likely to contract COVID-19 in November than in April.
"In November, 84% of respondents believed they had a ‘low' chance of getting infected with COVID-19 and 16% believed that they had a ‘medium' or ‘high' chance. The comparable rates in April were 76% and 24%," Ms Burke said.
The survey involved 1,585 adults and was carried out from November 12-18, 2020.
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