There has certainly been an increase in anxiety and fear across the world in 2020, along with high levels of grief and loss in countries with high COVID death rates. We have been relatively untouched by COVID in Australia, but it is my sense that Australians are still experiencing high rates of stress and distress as we watch on helplessly as the rest of the world continues to suffer. Some parts of Australia are continuing to experience lockdowns and self-isolation periods. As we are still in the midst of this global pandemic, many of us will be feeling stressed and anxious about what might happen next.
As a result, there has been an increase in people experiencing mental health issues and there has been an increase in people accessing psychologists across Perth. I see this as a positive, in that people are accessing supports and talking about their distress. I think COVID brought with it an increase in people’s openness to talk about their stresses and a greater acceptance for people to listen and support their friends and families. People may have started looking out for elderly neighbours, for example, or checking in on family that they know are in lockdown.