Mental health self-care during the COVID-19 pandemic: a prospective cohort study in Australia

Daniel Griffiths, Vinsensia Maharani Kanya Dhira Pradipta, Alex Collie

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialResearchpeer-review


Introduction: Pandemic public health measures have affected mental health for many people. We sought to determine how people were managing their mental health concerns during the pandemic, and to identify worker characteristics where actions were more common. Methods: A prospective cohort of 1646 Australians, who were in paid employment prior to the pandemic, completed a survey during 27 April– 26 July 2020 on changes in work, health, and actions taken to manage their mental health concerns. Descriptive statistics were calculated to determine actions taken to manage mental health concerns during the prior month, such as lifestyle changes, exercise, use of online resources, and talking to others. Regression models identify worker characteristics where actions were more common. Results: Lifestyle changes were the most frequently reported action to manage mental health concerns (78%), and were more common for women (OR = 2.33, 95%CI=[1.82, 3.03]), and people experiencing recent work loss (OR = 1.54, 95%CI=[1.04, 2.28]). Overall, mental health self-care was more common for people experiencing psychological distress, or with pre-existing mental conditions. Talking to friends about mental health, and making changes to diet and exercise, was more common for women and those aged 18–24 years. Psychological distress was a significant indicator for consulting with health professionals. Conclusion: Actions to manage mental health concerns during the pandemic were common, as were conversations with friends or family members. During economic crises, support and services should focus on reducing barriers to formal mental health care, particularly for people who less commonly seek help, and those experiencing moderate to high levels of psychological distress.

Original languageEnglish
Article number145
Number of pages7
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2024


  • COVID-19
  • Longitudinal studies
  • Mental health
  • Occupational health

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