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Survey: Residents report higher levels of anxiety and loneliness as pandemic drags on

Months of isolation and social distancing can lead some to experience pandemic fatigue.
Months of isolation and social distancing can lead some to experience pandemic fatigue.(KEYC News Now)
Updated: Feb. 11, 2021 at 11:36 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A recent survey commissioned by the Hawaii Department of Health found that COVID-19 is affecting the mental health of a majority of Hawaii residents.

Of 445 Hawaii adult residents surveyed, 82% said that they have experienced a mental health condition at some point over the last six months, and about 50% of those say their symptoms began during the pandemic. Of those who experienced a mental health condition before the pandemic, 35% felt that their symptoms became worse during the pandemic.

Survey results also showed that 68% of participants experienced feelings of anxiety over the past six months, 61% have felt loneliness, 57% have felt depressed at some point and 33% have suffered a panic attack.

The survey also found that the pandemic has especially affected the mental health of young adults, with 93% of those under the age of 35 experiencing a mental health condition in the last six months. This is compared to 65% of seniors who had the same experience.

Those whose household income is less than $50,000 were also found to be most vulnerable. Among those who live in households that earn less than $50,000, 91% have experienced one or more mental health issues over the last six months, which is in contrast to 75% of those who live in households with combined incomes exceeding $100,000.

Other key findings on mental health from the survey:

  • Those who view the pandemic more in terms of its financial impact were more likely to have experienced overall mental stress and depression over the last six months.
  • The pandemic is having a greater impact on men in terms of mental health. Of those surveyed, 58% of men who have experienced a mental health condition indicated it is a new issue for them that they had not experienced it prior to the pandemic. Over the course of the last six months, however, women were more likely to have experienced anxiety and panic attacks.
  • The survey also showed Japanese residents are hit particularly hard, with 68% who are currently experiencing mental health issues indicating they did not experience this prior to the pandemic.
  • Those who live with a child under 18 in their home were more likely to have experienced mental health issues over the last six months than were those who do not live with a minor.

The survey also found that 65% of participants found help in talking to a friend or family member.

Amy Curtis, chief administrator of the Hawaii DOH’s Adult Mental Health Division said that this is a real issue. “We encourage everyone to continue to confide in family or friends, seek support from a therapist or to call the Department of Health’s Hawaii CARES hotline,” she said.

Consistent with these findings, Hawaii CARES (formerly the Crisis Line of Hawaii) received its highest annual volume of calls in 2020 compared to the prior seven years of operation, receiving more than 16,000 calls in September 2020.

If you or a loved one needs support, call Hawaii CARES at (800) 753-6879 or text ‘ALOHA’ to 741741. Caring, qualified professionals are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For more information, click here.

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