A NEW survey of around 1,000 adults in Ireland, looking at how people are coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, has identified high levels of mental health problems among adults.
The Irish COVID-19 Psychological Survey was launched on 31 March; 31 days after the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was reported in the Republic of Ireland, and two days after Irish residents were asked to stay at home as part of measures to reduce the spread of the virus.
Participants answered questions about their current circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, their mental health, and their views on COVID-19 vaccination.
Initial results from the study suggest mental health problems are common with 41% of people reporting feeling lonely, 23% reporting clinically meaningful levels of depression, 20% reporting clinically meaningful levels of anxiety, and 18% reporting clinically meaningful levels of post-traumatic stress.
Dr Philip Hyland of Maynooth University, who is one of the researchers involved in the study, said the results showed high rates of mental health problems like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress.
“These problems are affecting men and women differently. Women are experiencing higher levels of depression and anxiety whereas men are experiencing higher rates of post-traumatic stress,” he said.
Dr Hyland added that “nearly half of the people surveyed were feeling lonely and those people with higher levels of loneliness were most likely to experience adverse mental health problems.
"We also found that younger people, those who have a tendency to think in catastrophic ways, those who fear being infected by COVID-19, and those who have had someone close to them infected by COVID-19 are at a higher risk of mental health problems.”
Dr Frédérique Vallières, Director of Trinity College’s Centre for Global Health, who is also involved in the study, pointed out that attitudes towards the uptake of a potential COVID-19 vaccine “to be worryingly low”, with 65 per cent of people indicating that they would accept a vaccine for themselves and their children.
“One-in-four people did say however that they might accept a vaccine for themselves and their child, compared to one-in-ten people who said they would not.
"A better understanding of why people might be hesitant to accept a COVID-19 vaccine, if and when it is developed is required,” Dr Vallières said.