The COVID-19 pandemic and mental health

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the economic and social life of communities across the globe. The risk of infection and death, economic turmoil, uncertainty, lockdowns and isolation have caused severe psychological stress on many.

A recent webinar, hosted by Monash Business School, explored the impact deteriorating mental health is having on the Australian economy, which is estimated to be between $40-70 million per year (Productivity Commission Inquiry Report). COVID-19 has spiked the prevalence of depression and anxiety disorders, and is linked to an overall decline in women’s mental health.

The panel of psychiatry and public health experts included; Professor Stephen King, Professor Harvey Whiteford and Professor Jayashri Kulkarni.

Professor Jayashri Kulkarni, Head of the Department of Psychiatry at Monash Central Clinical School, uncovered some striking findings from an online survey conducted by her research team looking at ‘Women, COVID-19 and Isolation’.

Professor Jayashri points out that the concept of quarantine is not new, and that isolation is intended to keep people safe, but paradoxically,  for some women and children, being isolated at home is doing the opposite.

“The negative consequences include the risk of losing jobs, greater economic vulnerabilities, and psychological health issues resulting from isolation, loneliness and uncertainty.”

Professor Jayashri also spoke about the steep rise in family violence in Victoria.

The findings showed that even though there has been government funding directed towards family violence services in Victoria, there are still limited pathways for mental health services, for example there is only one Women’s Health Clinic in Victoria, located at the Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre.

Watch the full ‘COVID-19 pandemic and mental health’ webinar.

To find out more about our mental health research at Monash, click here.