Methods: Data were collected from a nationally representative sample of 1041 adults across five waves from March/April 2020 to March/April 2021. New participants were recruited at follow-up waves to maintain nationally representative cross-sectional estimates. Cross-sectional estimates of each and any disorder were calculated, and longitudinal changes in means and prevalence estimates of MDD, GAD, and C19-PTSD were assessed using structural equation modelling.
Results: Cross-sectional estimates of meeting criteria for MDD, GAD, or C19-PTSD were 34.7% in March/April 2020 (Wave 1) and 33.7% in March/April 2021 (Wave 5). Longitudinal analyses revealed no significant change in symptoms of MDD, a significant decrease in GAD symptoms, and a significant increase in C19-PTSD symptoms. There were significant decreases in prevalence estimates of MDD (by 4.9%) and GAD (by 6.3%), and no significant change in C19-PTSD. Overall, 4.7% fewer people met criteria for any disorder at Wave 5 than at Wave 1.
Conclusion: There was no evidence of an increase in mental health problems in the adult population during the first year of the pandemic in Ireland. Analyses of longitudinal data indicated a small but significant decrease in the proportion of people suffering from a mental health disorder.
Bibliographical noteThis research received funding from the Health Research Board and the Irish Research Council under the COVID-19 Pandemic Rapid Response Funding Call [COV19-2020-025].
- mental health
- longitudinal survey