A recent survey on the impact of COVID-19 on mental health in Malta found that almost half (47%) of respondents feel depressed ‘most of the time’.
Richmond Foundation and marketing research firm Esprimi conducted the study between 2nd and 9th April to assess how the halt of movement and imposed isolation during the pandemic is affecting the general population’s mental health.
Out of the 1,064 respondents, 48% felt that they lack motivation to do anything most of the time and more than a quarter (26%) said they had no one to share their worries with.
Most notably, 1 out of every 100 respondents said they thought about self harm or suicide all the time. This increased to 3 out of every 100 for respondents aged 16-24 years old.
CEO Richmond Foundation Stephania Dimech Sant noted that “apart from concerns about physical health, this pandemic has given rise to various mental health issues within our community.”
“The mental health impact of the pandemic will last longer than the physical health impact,” she warned.
45.4% said the hardest thing to deal with since the implementation of measures is staying away from their loved ones, and more than half (59.8%) think it will take three months or more to return to normality.
The government so far not provided a timeline on when lockdown restrictions will be loosened, with Superintendent of Health Charmaine Gauci stating that the measures can only be eased when the R0, which is the virus’ rate of infection, decreases below 1.
Prime Minster Robert Abela says he is hopeful that measures will begin to ease after the next two to three crucial weeks.
Regarding measures to mitigate the provide of COVID-19, 72% of survey respondents thought that current measures are adequate.
In terms of personal precautions, it was found that 91.7% avoided public places, 14.3% had to arrange alternative care for children or other family members and only 9.4% wore a face mask outside.
The survey used various scales to determine sentiments like loneliness and worried-ness. On an ascending scale of 1-5 for feelings of worry in terms of lockdown, respondents gave a score of 3.9 for worry for the well-being of loved ones who are not in their home, 3.2 for the impact of COVID-19 on their mental wellbeing; 3.1 for their financial situation and 2.9 for feeling alone.
On the topic of financial impact of COVID-19, more than half of respondents (53.9%)expect their income to decrease in 2020, and in terms of personal well-being, 63.5% were concerned about their own physical and mental health.
Only 29% of respondents felt hopeful about the situation during the week the survey was carried out.
“COVID-19 has led to an elevated sense of threat to peoples’ livelihoods. Through social distancing, school closures, work layoffs and a partial and mandatory lockdown to some people from all works of life are suddenly facing major disruptions to their lives leaving a large chunk of individuals feeling anxious or worried about the outbreak and the trail of negative consequences that come with it,” Richmond Foundation wrote on the survey findings.
“In this unprecedented situation, as business leaders, our series of COVID-19 market research services are being offered on a non profit model. We are doing this out of love, with the objective to we create actionable insights that help the Richmond Foundation to offer relevant services to the community,” CEO of Esprimi Morgan Parnis said.
They hope the insights of this survey is sued by relevant stakeholders to tackle better enact plans for the protection of the populace’s mental health amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Read the full results of the survey here.
If your mental well-being is suffering due to COVID-19, you can seek help on the freephone for mental well-being by Richmond Foundation on 1770