New research to explore effects of COVID-19 on young peoples mental health

Swinburne’s Dr Eric Tan, in collaboration with the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute (QIMR Berghofer) in Brisbane have launched a survey to investigate how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the mental health of Australian young people.

Running from 1 April 2021 to midnight 30 April 2021, the project is specifically looking at the psychological wellbeing of young Victorians and Queenslanders a year after COVID-19 lockdowns were introduced in Australia.

Developing the tools

The ‘Impacts of COVID-19 on Youth Mental Health’ (MOMENT) online survey is open to young people aged 16 to 24 years old residing in Victoria and Queensland.

The researchers are recruiting more than 600 participants from each state to take part in the study.

“Our MOMENT study will look into the experiences of young people through the previous year, which will help us identify the issues relating to their psychological wellbeing during the pandemic,” says lead researcher Dr Eric Tan from Swinburne’s Centre for Mental Health.

MOMENT has three aims:

  1. to characterise the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on youth mental health in Australia;
  2. to explore specific effects of extended lockdowns and restrictions on young people by comparing Victoria and Queensland; and
  3. to identify factors relating to psychological wellbeing among young people and the potential target areas for assistance.

“The collection of data across Victoria and Queensland will allow us to compare the mental health effects on young people across the two states that had very different lockdown experiences and highlight any gaps in how pandemic-related mental health problems are identified, treated and supported,” says Dr Emily Hielscher, Queensland-based study lead and researcher in QIMR Berghofer’s Child and Youth Mental Health Group.

Supporting youth mental health

“This important collaboration between Swinburne and QIMR Berghofer allows us to use the strengths of our respective teams to understand how we can best support young people through COVID-19 and into the future,” Dr Tan adds.

Dr Tan, who is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Mental Health, is also part of the Swinburne team that launched the ‘COVID-19 and you: mental health in Australia now’ (COLLATE) project in April 2020, which has been providing valuable data on the mental health of Australians throughout COVID-19. Data from COLLATE revealed that levels of stress, depression and anxiety were up to four times higher than typical levels in young people between the ages of 18 and 24.

“Our COLLATE project identified young people as a key vulnerable group during the pandemic and emphasised the need for a greater understanding of the factors that might be contributing to psychological distress among this group,” says Dr Tan.

“We’re hopeful the MOMENT study will also improve our understanding of what strategies have been working for young people during the past year to maintain their mental health. This will inform a path forward to start filling any gaps and to better support young people’s mental health,” says Dr Hielscher.

Taking part in the survey

Young people who want to participate in the survey can register their interest with the MOMENT project. Participation is voluntary and anonymous.

/University Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.