Mental health has been in the spotlight throughout the pandemic, namely due to the struggle lockdown has added for those suffering from mental health issues. The uncertainty of the time and lack of employment opportunities as well as isolation has left many suffering from depression and loneliness, while others battling addictions have largely relapsed behind closed doors or been left to suffer alone, with resources being stretched thin. As HuffPost reports, “In summer 2020, for example, roughly 4 in 10 of American adults indicated they were struggling with mental health concerns or substance abuse. That’s up from about 1 in 10 adults prior to the pandemic.”
It comes after news here in Australia of surging numbers of mental health emergencies that are striking young Victorian adults. A report by the Victorian Agency for Health information shows that young adults aged 18 to 24 are suffering significant increases in intentional self-harm and suicidal ideation. Experts are now warning that we are living in the midst of two pandemics, with the mental health crisis becoming a national one that is merely co-existing in the shadows of the global pandemic.
While there have been many triggers that have exacerbated mental health struggles during the pandemic - from loss of income, unemployment to isolation and loneliness - the new study can’t exactly say why people who roll up their sleeves appear to experience a mental boost. Study authors suggest it’s likely due to a number of factors, including that those who are vaccinated are less anxious about getting infected, might have more social activities or opportunities, or are also able to seek out new work opportunities. Naturally, the study isn’t suggesting that the vaccine is a cure for mental health woes, but rather believes that there is a mental health effect of vaccination that can be felt. The study’s authors conclude that their findings should simply be understood as the “short-term direct effects of getting a first vaccine dose.”