Frequently asked questions
Do you think the COVID-19 pandemic will impact our mental health or our students' mental health? Will they be more anxious now?
The impact on mental health with vary greatly between individuals. The way an individual responds to the current situation depends on a range of factors such as the unique qualities he/she brings to the situation such as their temperament or personality, their thinking style, but also a range of other environmental factors such as their social support, the degree to which the virus has affected their capacity to work, access to food etc.
Many people have experienced an increase in anxiety since COVID-19. This is to be expected. Anxiety is a normal emotion that we experience when we perceive threat in our environment, that is, when we think something bad is going to happen and/or we don’t think we can handle the outcome.
Anxiety plays an important role in our survival. It is there to help us respond to threat. It drives us to take action. At the moment, anxiety is driving us to wash our hands more often and to physically distance ourselves from others. This will help keep us and others safe. We are all experiencing more anxiety than usual because our physical safety is under threat more than usual.
There are some people however, due to a range of factors, that may be over-estimating the threat and under-estimating their ability to cope. This is likely to lead to increased anxiety that is likely to have a greater negative impact on their life. For some too, the absence of their usual social supports can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation.
So again, this is to be expected but if this is accompanied with thoughts like, “This is never going to end” “I am getting what I deserve” or “I can’t handle this” then this is likely to be associated with poorer mental health.
Is there any ‘good’ to come of COVID-19 and the restrictions?
There are some behaviours we have changed as a result of COVID-19. These could have long lasting health benefits such as good hygiene practices, flexible working environments, access to telehealth, parents connecting with their child’s education and our resilience and strategies to coping with future pandemics.
There is also now a raised awareness of health and I think we have identified gaps in the health system so that if this happens again, we will likely be better prepared. Importantly, we have broken a few barriers that have previously prevented the provision and access to telehealth for Australians.
Telehealth will mean more people will have access to evidence-based care. This will hopefully have a lasting effect. Clinicians now know how they can deliver care using telehealth, and the public know how to access medical services that may not be available locally or for other reasons.
Also, we have seen the benefits of responding appropriately to scientific knowledge. This may help us as a community and nation be more open to responding to scientific data regarding other important issues we need to respond to, in order to keep us and our environment safe.
For more Q&A
Professor Jennie Hudson answers a range of other questions about anxiety in children and young people here.
Content owner: Centre for Emotional Health Last updated: 14 May 2020 2:09pm