ABS Survey Shows Mental Health Boost As COVID-19 Restrictions Ease

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Household Impact of COVID-19 Survey has shown Australians are becoming more social as COVID-19 restrictions ease.
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Compared to the May survey, 79% of Australians avoided social gatherings altogether, with that number dropping to 66% for June.

This change has aligned with an improvement to overall mental health according to the survey, which reported the percentage of people reporting loneliness went from 22% in April to 9% in June.

The ABS survey found a 50% or greater decrease in people reporting problems in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, managing health concerns or relationship difficulties is strongly linked to a drop in the percentage of Australians reporting feelings linked to anxiety and depression.

From April, reports of feelings of restlessness and fidgeting fell from 42% to 25% in June, with nervousness dropping from 35% to 25% as well.

ABS head of household surveys, Michelle Marquardt, said the reinstating of restrictions across the country in recent weeks due to the growing number of cases in Victoria specifically, has not yet had an effect on the survey results but should be watched and understood.

“Now that some parts of the country are either having to reinstate some restrictions, or put a pause on easing them, it will be important to understand what impacts this is likely to have on people’s mental health,” Marquardt said.

“We asked respondents about the stressors that they have experienced as a result of the COVID restrictions and what impact that had on their mental health.

“This survey showed 24% of respondents reported experiencing one or more sources of personal stress in June compared to 43% in April.

“The majority of Australians (92%) have continued to keep their distance from people although fewer were avoiding social gatherings,” she said.

The ABS noted the June iteration of the survey record similar results to those recorded in a pre-COVID-19 national health survey in terms of emotional and mental well-being, but nervousness is still much higher than before the pandemic.

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