Researchers have looked at the effects of Victoria’s strict COVID-19 lockdowns on mental health. 

The comparison of the mental health impact of lockdowns in Victoria with other areas of Australia where restrictions were lighter looked at data for 20,000 people. The resulting study says lockdowns had small but significant adverse mental health effects.

Women, especially those aged 20 to 29, were more likely to suffer mental health consequences than men, the scientists say, while the mental health of men aged 55 and over actually improved in lockdown. 

The group most likely to experience adverse effects was women in couples with kids, but male partners with kids saw only modest negative outcomes. 

Women having to shoulder most of the burden of looking after the kids while trying to work from home during lockdown may explain this, the researchers suggest. 

Single mums did not appear to suffer the same negative effects, which the authors say could be because extra government financial support was provided for this group, or simply because single mums are more resilient and adaptable than women in couples. 

A second, related, study found stricter COVID-19 measures around the world were linked to negative mental health effects and a lower opinion of the government’s pandemic response.

Together, the findings strengthen the notion that stricter policy measures may lead to adverse mental health outcomes and that effective policies to contain the pandemic must go hand in hand with strategies and resources to address mental health for the general population and those most at risk.

The two studies are accessible here and here.