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Sunday 10 December 2023 Dublin: 7°C
Sasko Lazarov/ Women and medical workers in particular are facing mental health issues because of the pandemic.
long-term effects

Mental health impact of pandemic will be with us 'for a long time', experts warn

The Psychological Society of Ireland has said that young people are being badly affected by the pandemic.

THE MENTAL HEALTH impact of Covid-19 is likely to be with us for a ‘long period of time’, the Psychological Society of Ireland has warned. 

A new paper has warned that individuals across the country – but especially medical staff – are suffering from a range of mental health issues because of the impact of the coronavirus crisis. 

The study, published today, suggests that nurses, women and “those working in virus epicentres” are bearing the brunt of the mental health impact of the pandemic. 

  • Our colleagues at Noteworthy want to investigate the measures being taken to tackle a pandemic-induced mental health crisis. You can help fund them here.

The key warning is that the virus – for which a vaccine still remains unavailable – is likely to cause long-term mental health issues for society. 

“Living through a catastrophe,” the report warns, “significantly increases risk of anxiety, stress, post-traumatic stress, depression, and substance use”.

“Multiple studies suggest around a three-fold increase in general mental health difficulties. People who are socially marginalised or who face secondary stressors are at greater risk.”

“Communities are more likely to be impaired if they are composed of youth rather than older or middle-aged adults,” the report warns. 

As the country faces new restrictions in response to a spike in Covid-19 cases, the paper also warns that the measures taken to disrupt the transmission of the virus also play a role in causing distress. 

Loneliness and isolation are a major source of difficulty for many, with the paper warning that young adults are feeling the highest levels of strain. 

The paper says:

Evidence from Ireland indicated that in April 2020, loneliness had actually decreased in those aged 70 and over, while increasing in all other age groups and especially so in those aged 18-34 where prevalence more than doubled compared to two years ago. 

The paper also warns that thought must go into any radical shift in how we work or how workplaces function because of the pandemic, so as to avoid causing further distress to staff. 

“Principles of justice, equality, and fairness are integral to discussions, planning, and decision-making on practices resulting from regulatory or public health requirements,” the authors write. 

“Employers and employees require agility and compassion to work toward a common purpose to sustain business, protect livelihoods, and keep people safe and financially secure.”

However, the paper also suggests that the new situation caused by the pandemic offers opportunities for better working systems too. 

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