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The Covid diaries #12 – How depressing is lockdown, really?

Just a short one to raise a few questions:

The ABC has posted the results of their huge annual survey on attitudes and beliefs in Australia here. A very interesting finding is how differently people experienced lockdown and the covid pandemic from a mental health point of view. Fascinatingly, among 18-25 year olds around 52% state that their mental health has deteriorated, whereas among the over 75s, who have much more to fear, only 11% had a drop in mental wellbeing.

I can’t claim to know why this is, but here are some ideas. These may be partially correct or completely mistaken.

  1. The young are more emotionally volatile; the elderly have experienced enough ups and downs to have some perspective.
  2. The young are more prone to doomscrolling due to familiarity with tech.
  3. Mood affiliation – earlier on in the pandemic there was a widespread belief that lockdown would cause an increase in suicide rates (it has not). People who subscribe to this view may be more likely to accordingly report a drop in their own mood.
  4. The young may have less satisfactory living situations (share houses, living alone, having to return to living with parents).
  5. The relative demands of being an older adult (including caring for children at home may be challenging, but may also provide a sense of grounding and purpose that manages mental health risks.

For what it’s worth, I suspect that mood affiliation is a major factor. Evidence for this lies in the fact that voters for the progressive parties (who tend to emphasise harms and risks) report worse mental health outcomes than voters for the conservative parties (who tend to emphasise stoicism).

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