Research has revealed significant negative mood changes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo/File
Research has revealed significant negative mood changes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo/File

Research reveals negative impacts of COVID on mental health

A PhD researcher from the University of Southern Queensland has identified significant mood changes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, impacting the mental health of people across the country.

Dr Renée Parsons-Smith from USQ's school of psychology and counselling studied the mood of 1,062 people during the period of lockdown in 2020.

Her research indicates that as a nation we have been experiencing significantly high levels of tension, depressed mood, anger, fatigue, and confusion, together with lower than usual levels of vigour.

Dr Parsons-Smith said of concern right now is the significantly higher levels of depressed mood compared with what was previously seen.

"This suggests that the pandemic has had a notable impact on how we feel," she said.

"While it remains unknown what the long term effects may be, what is clear is that we have a large portion of the population who are currently at risk of, or currently experiencing poor mental health.

"Such a large increase in numbers in such a short period of time has the potential to put considerable strain on current mental health services."

READ MORE: SUICIDE EPICENTRE: Data reveals Burnett's dark problem

Through a mood monitoring website called In The Mood , Dr Parsons-Smith, Dr Julian Lim and Dr Peter Terry have been monitoring mood for several years.

The online mood profiling platform enables users to get a quick snapshot of how they are feeling and evidence-based mood regulation strategies are provided to improve feelings if need be.

From March - June, 2020, mood responses of 1,062 participants (386 male, 676 female) were collected using the Brunel Mood Scale.

The pattern of mood responses show significantly elevated scores for tension, depression, anger, fatigue, confusion and below average scores for vigour, a profile associated with increased risk of mental health issues.

According to the research females reported more negative mood scores then males and the under 25 age group reported the most negative profiles.

READ MORE: Frontline workers expose failing mental health system

As the Burnett region continues to battle a mental health crises, Dr Parsons-Smith said people living in rural and remote areas are less likely to seek mental health treatment.

"Unfortunately, a high suicide rate often corresponds with reduced access to mental health services. To further compound this issues, previous research has found that those living in rural and remote areas are less likely to seek mental health treatment," she said.

"In my opinion an increased focus on telehealth services and internet-delivered interventions has the potential to minimise accessibility barriers to mental health services.

"Also now more than ever, I think it is essential that we take care of our mental health by accessing the services that are currently in place."

If this story has raised any issues for you, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or The Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.

For a full list of local contacts click here.

READ MORE: 'Need to do more': MP on new Burnett mental health facility

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