The COVID-19 pandemic takes a significant toll on the mental health of young people, a new Polish study has found. According to a survey carried out by a team of psychologists from Polish universities and completed by nearly 1,200 adults, people aged 18-24 have been more affected by the coronavirus lockdown than any other age group. The results of the survey have been revealed in a report “Determinants of depressive and generalized anxiety symptoms in adults in Poland during the COVID-19 epidemic” (Uwarunkowania objawów depresji i lęku uogólnionego u dorosłych Polaków w trakcie epidemii COVID-19), published by the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Warsaw.
As observed by the researchers, levels of anxiety and depression among Polish people may have doubled during the coronavirus-induced lockdown. The strict social distancing measures seem especially detrimental to mental well-being of young people - around 37% of respondents between 18 and 24 years old have developed “clinically significant” symptoms of anxiety and depression over the last several weeks. In a similar study carried out before the coronavirus outbreak, such symptoms were experienced by around 16% of respondents aged 18-34. The report notes, however, that the discussed mental health problems have been caused largely by the consequences of the pandemic rather than the fear of contracting the virus. As shown by the survey, young people in Poland have struggled mostly with feelings of loneliness, isolation, boredom and mental exhaustion. Over 60% of the younger respondents have found it especially hard to deal with movement or travel restrictions, isolation from family, friends or other people in general, monotony and restrictions on their liberties (a sense of not being able to decide for oneself). Others mentioned difficult family relationships and a lack of personal space at home as the cause of their problems. It is also worth noting that around 36% of young adults said the financial position of their family has deteriorated since the beginning of the outbreak.
Quite interestingly, the survey has indicated people aged 55-64 and over 64 are the least likely to suffer from mental health problems during the pandemic. The majority of respondents over 55 years old whose anxiety or depression symptoms have increased during the lockdown said they worry most about their own or their family's health and safety. Some respondents also mentioned they have been experiencing feelings of loneliness and exhaustion or that they have been impacted by the lack of contact with other people and the necessity to change their old habits.
The full report (in Polish) can be accessed here: Psychological Aspects of the Epidemic