Serious impacts of virus and isolation on mental health

Media Release

More than nine out of every 10 people participating in GROW peer-to-peer support groups online report the pandemic has impacted on their mental health and wellbeing.

A third of participants stated that their overall mental wellbeing had been impacted “a great deal” or “a lot”, while two thirds said they had been impacted “a moderate amount” or “a little”.

When asked about their relationships with others, 38% said their relationships had been impacted “a great deal” or “a lot”, while more than 50% said relationships had been impacted “a moderate amount” or “a little”.

Asked about the impact of social isolation on their mental wellbeing, more than half stated they had felt lonely, nervous, overwhelmed, uncertain and tired for no good reason.

Almost a third of people stated they felt “a lot” more anxious and almost a quarter stated they felt “a lot” more depressed.

The eGrow survey was developed to gain understanding of the mental health impacts of COVID-19 on the GROW community and the effectiveness of the rapid shift from face-to-face to eGrow groups.

The survey was live for two weeks and completed by 210 respondents – a good response and statistically valid.

National CEO of GROW Australia, David Butt, says the survey results provide an insight on the impact of COVID-19 and social isolation on the wellbeing of people already participating in mental health services.

“When COVID-19 required us to stop face-to-face peer group meetings across Australia, we rapidly switched to eGrow meetings and provided technical support to people on how to participate via video,” Mr Butt says.

“Some groups went into hibernation, and some people simply couldn’t or wouldn’t meet online, but generally we were pleased about the large number of people who adapted so quickly.

“Having seen these results, we can see why – the virus clearly adversely impacted on the wellbeing of people who were already participating in our mental health services.

“In many cases, participation in our Grow groups may be the most structured event in people’s lives, and hence their desire to maintain that connection online, to counter uncertainty, isolation and loneliness.

“During the early onset of the virus and of lockdowns, we saw the Australian population coming together, supporting each other locally, getting to know each other, building community.

“That’s what our groups and other services do: for more than 60 years, building a sharing and caring community is what Grow’s services have always been about.”

Mr Butt says that, while some groups had gone back to face-to-face meetings, many were continuing to meet by video.

Text by: GROW Australia