Mental health

Investigation on Co-occurring mental health disorders due to Covid-19 pandemic in Australia.

Research Rationale

Research background

The covid-19 pandemic has profoundly affected the lives of people across the globe. Contact restriction, economic shutdown, isolation has imposed complex and a complete change to the psychological environment of human beings (WHO, 2021). The extended lockdown and restrictions in the current situation are affecting adolescent, children as well as their families in an exceptional way. As the pandemic is evolving through different phases, evaluating the impact of it on the mental health of people on the provision of psychiatric services is an important aspect. Besides the anxiety and worry about the covid-19, existing situation and deploying economy has worsened the situation with rising and a higher level of unemployment affecting the normal livelihood of people (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2021). This has also put significant pressure on the earning citizens of the countries resulting in mental health problems, distress, and violence.

Identification of gaps in the literature

At the family level, the outbreak of the pandemic has led to a continuous and vicious cycle of reorganization among the people and their everyday life. Irrespective of the economic background and financial stability of the family members every family member in an individual way is dealing with the stress of social distancing and Quarantine. Continuous closure and home-schooling have led the children to face extreme anxiety and homesickness (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2021). Similarly, parents are also experiencing increased pressure due to working from home and keeping their businesses and the jobs running along with taking care of the children at home at the same time. As the availability of caregiving resources has restricted the family support and connection is getting disrupted. Not only the fear of losing a family member belongs to increased risk due to the pandemic but the studies have also recognized the increased potential of domestic violence grief and mourning due to post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

Importance of addressing the gaps

Although several studies have focused on the co-occurrence of Mental Health disorders such as depression and anxiety related to the population of many nations yet there exists minimal knowledge in the impact of the large-scale pandemic on the community mental health of Australia. Particularly due to lack of survey during the acute phase this impact is underrated and not exposed to a larger extent. It reflects the ill-equipped system for supporting the communities in order to deal with the unprecedented covid-19 pandemic and its consequences of Mental Health disorders. This study therefore particularly provides information and data that are needed to inform community-level systems and government policies for appropriate resource allocation and deal with future crises due to mental health disorders and their occurrence.

Need for conducting the research

The study will first identify the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on the Australian population at the early acute phase of the covid-19 pandemic and measure the depression, anxiety, and psychological well-being of the people during this phase. It will associate the discussion between exposure of people to covid-19 and mental health. Therefore the impact of the pandemic on social functioning work and socio-demographic aspect will be a major concern. Exposure to the pandemic had a limited association with the outcome of Mental Health disorders.

Significance and novelty of the study

The findings of the current study will suggest minimizing the disruption to social functioning and work and increasing the access of the people in Australia for mental health services at a community level. Apart from that, the significant policies that can be implemented at the regional and community level and the objective for minimizing the pandemic-related mental health impact on the wellbeing of the people will be exposed. The suggested creative and innovative strategies will be needed to meet the individual community’s needs while the society will continue to enact according to the vital Public Health Strategies for controlling the further spread of the virus.

Literature Review

Impact of Covid-19 on mental well being

As avowed by Fisher et al. (2020), the new variant of covid-19 is becoming an unprecedented aspect to deal with the Global Impact of the pandemic. Sustained social isolation, loss of income, mortality, and morbidity are affecting billions of people across the globe. The impact of this pandemic and crisis is yet unknown in the short and long term. There is minimal evidence about the mental health impact on different phases of the pandemic across different communities. Gathering and early evidence regarding the impact of the pandemic can play a vital role in informing the mental health service providers to receive extended effects. According to Dawel et al. (2020), approximately 18% of the general population and Australia have been reported with co-occurring anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder that co-existed for a longer duration of time. Social anxiety disorder is strongly linked to attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder. In order to deal with such co-occurring disorders, integrated treatment can be an effective way.

As per Fegert et al. (2020), the dual diagnosis treatment program can provide individuals with additional support and services for addressing different areas of need. These aspects should work along with other important areas of need including employment, housing and socializing as the primary reasons for anxiety and depression are ultimately related to some of these major aspects. The major purpose of the integrated treatment is that the patient will be able to receive intensive therapeutic and medical interventions as well as care for both disorders simultaneously. As per Martin (2021), it will not only allow the patient to manage the symptoms caused due to individual mental health disorders without getting associated with the abuse of alcohol and drugs as well as increase the extent of comprehensive care and aftercare treatment for supporting in the best way possible and build the recovery process efficiently.

Theoretical background

The model of integrated care treatment can be considered best practices for treating individuals at a community level with co-occurring mental health disorders (Australian Government, 2020). It is also evident that patients are more likely to be engaged and actively participate in the treatment when the provided care is comprehensive and integrated. As the treatments which are provided to the patient are planned and tailored to meet the individual demand and need therefore this approach can be linked to having a positive outcome (Hossain et al., 2020).

Although the availability of the integrated treatment plan is excessively implemented in the Healthcare service providing Institutions of Australia to deal with substance intake and alcoholism however for post-traumatic disorders which the people are facing due to the outbreak of covid-19 pandemic this particular plan can also be helpful in accomplishing through appropriate behavioral therapy and effective counseling interventions. It can be used and utilized for multiple therapeutic Technologies which have already been proven effective in medical health disorder treatment.

Risks and challenges

The covid-19 pandemic has major economic implications that have put extreme financial pressure on most families (Galea et al., 2020). It is also evident from the economic recessions in the previous years that economic pressure eventually leads to serious mental health problems and is directed to people. The connected factors of economic decisions are identified as income decline, crisis, increasing rate of mental disorders, and suicidal behavior. Therefore the current recession due to the covid-19 crisis has the added extra factor of concerning the socio-economic status of the people to deal with the poor mental health conditions among children and their families. Substance abuse and mental illness significantly influence the children and parent relationship thereby increasing the long-term risk of Mental Health issues (Saunders et al., 2015). The notable increase in the emotional physical and sexual violence against women and children during the recession period has also been reported due to the extreme mental illness anxiety and depression among people.

References

Australian Government. (2020). Looking after your mental health during coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions. health.gov.au. Retrieved 27 September 2021, from https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/ongoing-support-during-coronavirus-covid-19/looking-after-your-mental-health-during-coronavirus-covid-19-restrictions.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2021). Mental health services in Australia, COVID-19 impact on mental health – Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Retrieved 27 September 2021, from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/mental-health-services/mental-health-services-in-australia/report-contents/mental-health-impact-of-covid-19.

Dawel, A., Shou, Y., Smithson, M., Cherbuin, N., Banfield, M., & Calear, A. et al. (2020). The Effect of COVID-19 on Mental Health and Wellbeing in a Representative Sample of Australian Adults. Frontiers In Psychiatry, 11(3), 41. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2020.579985

Fegert, J., Vitiello, B., Plener, P., & Clemens, V. (2020). Challenges and burden of the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic for child and adolescent mental health: a narrative review to highlight clinical and research needs in the acute phase and the long return to normality. Child And Adolescent Psychiatry And Mental Health, 14(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13034-020-00329-3

Fisher, J., Tran, T., Hammarberg, K., Sastry, J., Nguyen, H., & Rowe, H. et al. (2020). The mental health of people in Australia in the first month of COVID ‐19 restrictions: a national survey. Medical Journal Of Australia, 213(10), 458-464. https://doi.org/10.5694/mja2.50831

Galea, S., Merchant, R., & Lurie, N. (2020). The Mental Health Consequences of COVID-19 and Physical Distancing. JAMA Internal Medicine, 180(6), 817. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.1562

Hossain, M., Tasnim, S., Sultana, A., Faizah, F., Mazumder, H., & Zou, L. et al. (2020). Epidemiology of mental health problems in COVID-19: a review. F1000research, 9(3), 636. https://doi.org/10.12688/f1000research.24457.1

Martin, S. (2021). Covid’s mental health toll: one in five Australians report high levels of psychological distress. the Guardian. Retrieved 27 September 2021, from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jul/14/covids-mental-health-toll-one-in-five-australians-report-high-levels-of-psychological-distress.

Saunders, E., McGovern, M., Lambert-Harris, C., Meier, A., McLeman, B., & Xie, H. (2015). The impact of addiction medications on treatment outcomes for persons with co-occurring PTSD and opioid use disorders. The American Journal On Addictions, 24(8), 722-731. https://doi.org/10.1111/ajad.12292

WHO. (2021). COVID-19 disrupting mental health services in most countries, WHO survey. Who.int. Retrieved 27 September 2021, from https://www.who.int/news/item/05-10-2020-covid-19-disrupting-mental-health-services-in-most

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