A study is underway to look at the long-term mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The study by Epworth Centre for Innovation in Mental Health will investigate the mental health of people who were infected with COVID-19, as well as the impact of lockdown restrictions on the community.
Director, Epworth Centre for Innovation in Mental Health, Professor Paul Fitzgerald said it’s important to know how COVID-19 has affected people to assist with planning services.
“We don’t know how extensive the mental health problems are going to be as a result of the pandemic,” Professor Fitzgerald said.
“Anecdotally overseas there are reports of an increase in depression in people who were diagnosed with COVID-19. It’s unclear whether that’s because of the trauma of being diagnosed or if it involves severe cases of infection where people were admitted to intensive care.”
The study will also look at the impact isolation restrictions have had on mental health and cognitive function in the community.
“Stress and anxiety can have significant impact on our thinking so we want to know how the community has been affected by isolation restrictions,” Professor Fitzgerald said.
The study comes as Epworth has adapted many mental health services to telehealth to keep people safe during the pandemic.
Epworth Clinic Director of Strategy and Operations, Maya Zerman, said telehealth options ensured people are still getting much-needed support.
“It was imperative for us to adjust how we delivered services so people could safely continue to receive much-needed mental health care, while adhering to social distancing guidelines.”
“This rapid transition to telehealth has meant people can still participate in one-on-one psychiatric consultations, inpatient group therapies and outpatient programs via video conference in this current climate.”