The Mental Health Impacts of COVID-19
Social isolation, employment uncertainty, and the virus itself have combined to shock the health and wellbeing of employees around the world. And while leaders are rightly focused on the physical effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s another global challenge emerging – mental health.
According to research conducted in Australia, France, Germany, New Zealand, Singapore, the UK and the US by Qualtrics, (41.6%) of respondents said that their mental health has declined since the COVID-19 outbreak. The number of people who rated the state of their mental health in the lowest range (3 or under on a 10-point scale) has doubled since the outbreak began. Similarly, Stress has increased for the vast majority of people since the COVID-19 outbreak: 65.9% of people report higher levels of stress since the outbreak, while only 8.2% say their stress levels have declined.
Monash University has released similar findings noting a widespread increase in people experiencing psychological symptoms, including anxiety, depression, and irritability that they attributed to the COVID-19 restrictions. People experiencing the worst symptoms were more likely to have lost their jobs, be caring for children or other dependent family members, or to be living alone or in an area with fewer resources. The most striking finding was the very high prevalence rates of people experiencing clinically significant symptoms of depression and anxiety. Even mild to moderate, subthreshold symptoms of these problems were being experienced by 25% of people.
The importance of Mindset
So, the big questions is what can we do to minimise the negative mental health impacts of the Pandemic? According to research published Forbes Magazine, some mindsets are better than others at deflecting the anxiety produced by Covid-19.
Psychologists Hannes Zacher and Cort Rudolph suggest three mindsets work best.
A challenge mindset describes the belief that one has sufficient resources to deal with difficult events and can “achieve personal gains or growth when mobilising physical and psychological energy.” This was found to be positively related to life satisfaction during the pandemic.
A controllable-by-self mindset refers to the belief that the pandemic is, to some degree, controllable through one’s choices and actions. People who adopt this mindset, for instance, are more likely to believe that prevention measures such as wearing a mask, washing hands frequently, and taking good care of oneself are effective at preventing the virus from spreading. This mindset was associated with the highest levels of psychological well-being during the pandemic.
A controllable-by-others mindset refers to the belief that an individual can rely on other people to help manage a given stressor. In the case of Covid-19, this might entail a belief that a government, community, or even a spiritual entity is able to effectively manage and control the course of the pandemic. This was also found to be a helpful mindset in promoting psychological well-being during the outbreak.