New Zealand / Covid 19

Mental health survey shows Kiwis stressed but will spring back

12:45 pm on 14 May 2020

A Covid-19 mental health survey suggests New Zealanders are feeling stressed but have the strength to overcome the challenges ahead.

Photo: 123rf

Psychologists from the University of Waikato launched an online survey in April asking more than 1000 New Zealanders about their thoughts and feelings about the lockdown and pandemic.

University of Waikato senior lecturer Dr Carrie Barber said three-quarters of people did not consider themselves vulnerable to the virus, however, they were concerned about the health of others and the financial impact of the pandemic.

"Through this initial restrictive phase of New Zealand's response to the Covid-19 pandemic, we would describe our participants as stressed but resilient," she said.

Many people said they had dramatically changed their lifestyle - particularly with work, transport and family life.

She said most people were worried, especially about infecting others or losing loved ones, with more than 30 percent experiencing high levels of anxiety and/or depression.

"In spite of this challenging situation, participants described using mostly positive, effective coping strategies. They have connected with whānau and friends, engaged in new and old hobbies and activities, and exercised, often with a walk around the neighbourhood."

About 60 percent of people reported financial impact, and 14 percent were seriously affected.

She said the survey also showed the importance of the media in staying informed with quality information.

"Most people said they rely on New Zealand-based online news sources and government websites for information, and many listed the daily news briefings as a positive source of coping and support.

"They were overwhelmingly positive about the amount and quality of information available to them."

Many answers also focused on being grateful to live in New Zealand, and echoed the values of being kind and protecting the vulnerable members of the community.