Methods: Self-report data were collected from a nationally representative sample of Irish adults (N = 1,041) at four time-points between April and December 2020.
Results: In the entire sample, mean levels of internalizing symptoms significantly declined from March to December 2020. However, we identified four distinct groups with different patterns of change. The most common response was ‘Resilience’ (66.7%), followed by ‘Improving’ (17.9%), ‘Worsening’ (11.3%), and ‘Sustained’ (4.1%). Belonging to the ‘Worsening’ class was associated with younger age, city dwelling, current and past treatment for a mental health problem, higher levels of empathy, and higher levels of loneliness.
Limitations: Sample attrition was relatively high and although this was managed using robust statistical methods, bias associated with non-responses cannot be entirely ruled out.
Conclusion: The majority of adults experienced no change, or an improvement in internalizing symptoms during the pandemic, and a relatively small proportion of adults experienced a worsening of internalizing symptoms. Limited public mental health resources should be targeted toward helping these at-risk individuals.
- longitudinal survey