Journal Article

Evaluating how mental health changed in Australia through the COVID-19 pandemic: Findings from the ‘Taking the Pulse of the Nation’ (TTPN) Survey

Published: 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on mental health at the level of the population. The current study adds to the evidence base by examining how the prevalence of psychological distress changed in Australia during the pandemic. The study also assesses the psychometric properties of a new single-item measure of mental distress included in a survey program conducted regularly throughout the pandemic. Data are from 1158 respondents in wave 13 (early July 2020) of the nationally representative Taking the Pulse of the Nation (TTPN) Survey. The questionnaire included the six-item Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K6) and a new single-item measure of distress. Results show a significant increase in the prevalence of psychological distress in Australia, from 6.3% pre-pandemic to 17.7% in early July 2020 (unadjusted odds ratio = 3.19; 95% CI (confidence interval) = 2.51 to 4.05). The new single-item measure of distress is highly correlated with the K6. This study provides a snapshot at one point in time about how mental health worsened in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, by demonstrating the accuracy of the new single-item measure of distress, this analysis also provides a basis for further research examining the trajectories and correlates of distress in Australia across the pandemic.

Authors

Botha F.Butterworth P.Wilkins R.

Botha, F., Butterworth, P., & Wilkins, R. (2022) Evaluating how mental health changed in Australia through the COVID-19 pandemic: Findings from the ‘Taking the Pulse of the Nation’ (TTPN) Survey. International Journal of Environmental Research & Public Health, 19, 558. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19010558