NEW DATA: Study reveals valuable lessons for countries facing COVID winter lockdowns Monash UniversityMELBOURNE: Victorians reported a decline in mental health, an increase in psychological distress and a reluctance to engage with health professionals during the state’s recent winter lockdown, according to a new report from Monash University.The report lays bare the negative health consequences faced by Victorians as they progressed through one of the world’s longest and most restrictive COVID-19-related lockdowns.The insights from the study, jointly funded by Monash University and icare Foundation, could help overseas governments plan and provide health and social services to mitigate these impacts, as many northern countries enter winter with rampant case numbers.Professor Alex Collie and colleagues from the University’s School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, started their study in March, as Australia entered a national lockdown. They enrolled 2,600 working-age Australians across all states and territories, who completed a survey tracking employment and mental and physical health status. Participants completed the survey again one and three months later, allowing researchers to see changes to the same people over time.During the third survey period, the state of Victoria experienced a second wave of infections, and went into one of the longest and most restrictive lockdowns in the world, whilst their interstate counterparts gradually returned to near-normal life. At its most restrictive, Melbourne residents were subject to stringent work-from-home orders, a curfew, a five-kilometre travel radius, limits on time spent outside, and school and business closures.Prior to the lockdown, the health of Victorians was equivalent to other Australians on most study measures. This changed significantly during the lockdown, when participants from Victoria reported:a worsening of mental healthincreases in psychological distresslow levels of engagement in paid workreduced in-person social interactionIn addition, Victorians reported that they were more likely to:have avoided seeking medical treatmentbe working from home (if they were working)have spoken with a friend or family member about their mental healthmake behavioural changes to manage mental health problemshave had a COVID-19 testThirty seven percent of Victorians reported they avoided seeking medical treatment during the winter lockdown, compared to 25 per cent of those in the rest of Australia.Forty five percent of Victorians who avoided healthcare cited fear of coming into contact with others as the reason, whereas this was reported by only 29 per cent of those outside Victoria. Study participants from Victoria were also more likely to report that healthcare professionals asked them not to come for a consultation or treatment.Professor Collie says: “The study shows that lockdowns have significant impacts on health, and on things that affect our health such as our social interactions and work.”“We also observed a drop in engagement with healthcare. The lockdown created a really difficult situation of increased mental health needs in the community coupled with people avoiding seeking care,” Professor Collie said.“It shows how important it is for healthcare professionals and governments to build trust and encourage engagement, and public campaigns with this message could be incredibly important for countries entering lockdowns now.”The lockdown also impacted the way Victorians engaged with others. Fifty-four percent of Victorians said they had not spent time with anyone outside their household in the past week compared with 17 per cent of other Australians. Victorians were more likely to have spoken to someone on the telephone or via the internet on a daily basis, highlighting the importance of social connections during a time of physical distancing and lockdown scenarios.Victorians also showed changes in help seeking behaviours, particularly around mental health. They were more likely to report distracting themselves by keeping active or learning a new skill, and to have participated in an online forum, and less likely to have taken no actions for their mental health.Professor Collie says the high rate of action to improve mental health is encouraging, and points to additional social supports that could be worthwhile.“The fact that around 85 – 90 per cent of people undertook activities to look after their mental health reveals a wide community acknowledgement of the importance of mental health. Guiding people in making good choices could be an effective campaign for those managing lockdowns.”No differences were seen between Victorians and other Australians on levels of financial stress, ability to access funds in an emergency or employment, despite more Victorians reporting that they were not engaged in paid work. One explanation for this is that Government financial stimulus were supporting the financial and employment situations of Victorians during the winter lockdown.Professor Collie says: “Our findings suggest that Job Keeper and the Coronavirus Supplement were keeping Victorians attached to their employers and helping unemployed people out of poverty. But this also means we should be very careful about withdrawing these payments given the continued high rates of unemployment and mental health problems in our community.”“In summary, lockdown measures must be coupled with additional community-wide supports and services that address the determinants of health. We need to support community and social networks, support people financially, keep them engaged with their workplaces, and find ways of ensuring people seek care when it’s needed.”Future reports from the study will examine changes in health and work among other states in Australia, including New South Wales, and will look more closely into issues such as working from home and returning to the workplace.*** /Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. Why?Well, unlike many news organisations, we have no sponsors, no corporate or ideological interests. We don’t put up a paywall – we believe in free access to information of public interest. Media ownership in Australia is one of the most concentrated in the world (Learn more). Since the trend of consolidation is and has historically been upward, fewer and fewer individuals or organizations control increasing shares of the mass media in our country. According to independent assessment, about 98% of the media sector is held by three conglomerates. This tendency is not only totally unacceptable, but also to a degree frightening). Learn more hereWe endeavour to provide the community with real-time access to true unfiltered news firsthand from primary sources. It is a bumpy road with all sorties of difficulties. We can only achieve this goal together. Our website is open to any citizen journalists and organizations who want to contribute, publish high-quality insights or send media releases to improve public access to impartial information. You and we have the right to know, learn, read, hear what and how we deem appropriate.Your support is greatly appreciated. All donations are kept completely private and confidential.Thank you in advance!Tags:Australia, community, coronavirus, Emergency, employment, Government, healthcare, Melbourne, mental health, Monash University, New South Wales, Professor, public health, social services, university, Victoria
ST. LEON-ROT, Germany – The Americans would like to think they are the underdogs at the Solheim Cup this week. They aren’t. If you examine the resumes of the 12 players on the United States roster, compare them to Europe’s, it’s no contest in favor of the Americans. If you look at the world rankings, it’s no contest again. The Americans’ average world ranking is 24.6 and Europe’s is 52.6. “I don’t know that you can call yourselves underdogs when you’re that much higher ranked,” European captain Carin Koch said. If you look at major championships won (10-4), the Americans tower over the Euros. If you look at LPGA titles (16-4) won over the last two years, the Americans also dominate, even though 10 of the 12 Euros in this Solheim Cup are LPGA members. It doesn’t matter that the Europeans have won the last two Solheim Cups, or that they beat the United States in a record 18-10 rout at the Colorado Golf Club in the last event. It doesn’t matter that the Europeans are the “home team” this time around, either. You want the official word? That comes from the bookmakers. The experts, the gurus who officially make the odds, they’re all making the Americans the favorites. Solheim Cup: Articles, photos and videos Capsules: United States | Europeans Ladbrokes, William Hill and Paddy Power are among oddsmakers who list the Americans as favorites. Ladbrokes and William Hill both make the United States a 4-6 favorite. Paddy Power makes them even heavier favorites at 8-13. What do the odds really mean? They mean the majority of the betting public believes the Americans should win. Bookmakers aren’t prognosticators. They aren’t in the business of predicting who will win. They aren’t floating their opinions making these odds. What they’re trying to do is accurately assess the public perception of who will win. That’s how oddsmaking works. If the odds were even this week, a load of money would be bet on the United States. That’s a fact. That’s why bookmakers are shifting the odds to make the Americans the favorite, to even out the betting. Of course, as they say, this is all “on paper.” And as we’ve learned, what’s on paper doesn’t mean diddly in these international team competitions. The Americans were heavily favored in both of the Solheim Cups lost in 2011 and ’13. Most of professional golf is an individual sport. It’s individuals playing for themselves, and most of it is stroke play. The Solheim Cup, like the Ryder Cup and Walker Cup, is a team event, and it’s all match play. This team thing and this match-play thing, they change everything. “Match play, it’s a different game,” said France’s Gwladys Nocera, who’s playing in her fourth Solheim Cup. “I think, two years ago, we were more united as a team than maybe the Americans were. Why? I don’t know. You have to ask them why they aren’t super strong together. “On the European side, for sure, we were like really, really strong together. Maybe that makes a difference at the end.” Maybe that’s just perception, but the scores of the last two Solheim Cups favor Nocera’s assertion. And even if it’s perception that the Americans aren’t a strong team, it’s a reality in the heads of the Euros. That’s a potential psychological advantage. “On paper, for sure, the Americans are better than the Europeans,” said France’s Karine Icher, who will be playing in her third Solheim Cup. “When you take the world rankings, there is no doubt they are much better. The magic of the match play, you never know. You can play No. 2 in the world against No. 100, and No. 100 wins, and you don’t know why. “It’s probably mental and how you can create a spirit together. It’s about being a team and being able to put aside every personal thing.” While bookmakers might not agree with U.S. captain Juli Inkster’s assertion that the United States is the underdog this week, there’s no denying the Americans have adopted the mindset. “My plan is to bring our lunch boxes over there,” Inkster said. “We’re going to have fun, but we’re also going to go to work. We’re tired of losing to the European team. We are the underdogs. It’s been a long time since we’ve been the underdogs, and the only way to get that back is to go over there and work hard and play some good golf.” What is it about international team events that makes everyone want to be the underdog? “I think it just makes you a little bit more scrappy, a little bit more willing to fight harder,” said Karen Stupples, the 2004 Women’s British Open champ who played on two European Solheim Cup teams. “There’s no real pressure on the performance, because you’re not expected to win, so you can go out there and just show everybody what you’ve got, but with a little chip on your shoulder to say. ‘You know what? It may not be thought that I’m as good, but I am as good.’ So that’s what the underdog role does for the players.” Whether the Americans should be favored or not, Koch knows they’re highly motivated and they’re feeling some heat. “In my eyes, it’s Team USA that’s under pressure,” Koch said. “But we also want it all. We want to win three in a row. That’s our big goal. It’s another tournament. It has nothing to do with what happened in Colorado or what happened the time before then. We start over, and it’s the Solheim Cup 2015 at St. Leon Rot, and this is the event. We’re there to win, but we’re also there to have a great match and to just have a lot of fun.” The winners always have the most fun.