30% of Irish population report worsening mental health since Covid restrictions began
Thirty percent of the Irish population reported worsening mental health since Covid restrictions began, according to a recent survey.
The results of the Healthy Ireland Survey were announced today by Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan, and Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, who said, "I am keenly aware of the ongoing need for additional supports for mental health services, and an increased focus on social connectedness and suicide prevention."
Seven thousand four hundred and fifty four people were interviewed in all areas of Ireland between October 2020 and March 2021, with results giving a detailed look at the impact restrictions had on citizens' health and wellbeing.
The report reveals information on many lifestyle behaviours, including smoking, alcohol consumption, diet, antibiotic usage, social connectedness and mental health and GP utilisation.
Dr Holohan said, "The opportunity the seventh wave of the Health Ireland Survey offers to our understanding of the health of the nation is immense. We now have a valuable flow of up-to-date data and information, that will help us better understand the impact of the pandemic on a range of issues including social connectedness and mental health.
"These insights will continue to inform our public health policies supports for this area of health and wellbeing, and I look forward to future results to support the mapping of our collective national recovery."
According to the report, 64% of people reported no change to their mental health, with only 5% saying it has improved.
Among those whose mental health worsened, 28% say it has declined “a lot”, while 71% say it has declined “a little”.
The survey included an online module on suicide awareness, completed by approximately a third of the respondents. The report notes suicide may resonate more strongly for these individuals, meaning "caution is necessary" when applying the results to the full population.
One in eight respondents report losing someone close or very close to them via suicide, with 6% of respondents report having attempted to take their own life at some point in the past.
Minister Donnelly said, "Funding for mental health services has increased from €700m in 2012 to €1.1 billion in 2022. The budget and expenditure of the National Office for Suicide Prevention has increased significantly in the last ten years, from €5.19m in 2012, to €13.3m in 2021, with significant supports included for frontline services and organisations working in the area of suicide prevention and mental health promotion."
Interviews were conducted by computer-aided telephone interview to remove infection risks. The report notes this necessity may mean small changes in results may not be statistically significant.
If you or someone you know is suffering from poor mental health, call Samaritans on 116 123.
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