Policy & Politics |
Monash University

Expert: COVID-19 - mental health and suicide modelling

A Monash University psychiatrist is available to discuss new data on the mental health impacts of COVID-19, and why suicide modelling is problematic.

Professor Jayashri Kulkarni, Psychiatrist and Professor, Monash Alfred Psychiatry research centre (MAPrc)

Contact details: +61 429 028 852 or Jayashri.Kulkarni@monash.edu

Read more commentary by Jayashri Kulkarni at Monash Lens

  • Why we should approach suicide modelling with caution. Mental health is unique and complex: It does not have the same statistical footprint as epidemiology, and thus could not make future projections with reliability.

  • Why women are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Women, youth, the elderly, and those with existing mental ill health need to be at the forefront of any national plans for dealing with the long and short term mental health consequences of the COVID-19 crisis.

  • A rise in domestic violence incidents has added to the issues that some women are coping with. 

Professor Kulkarni, along with researchers from the Monash Alfred Psychiatry research centre (MAPrc) are currently conducting a nationwide survey tracking the mental health effects on Australians of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey is ongoing and has already been completed by 2000 Australians nationally – looking at both the mental health consequences of the pandemic and resilience factors that contribute to good mental health. Researchers will continue to follow the participants for two years and document their findings.

Preliminary findings include:

  • About 20% of Australian adult respondents are reporting moderate to severe levels of psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

  • Levels of depression, anxiety and stress are higher than what would normally be seen in the general population.

  • Depression: 25% of the respondents reported moderate to severe levels of depression.

  • Stress and anxiety: 14% reported moderate to severe levels of anxiety; and 19% reported moderate to severe levels of stress.  

  • Females had higher levels of depression, anxiety and stress.  

  • Poorer mental health outcomes are also associated with feelings of isolation and loneliness.  

  • Poorer mental health outcomes were seen in people who had COVID-19 related loss of employment.  

  • Between 3 April - 3 May, the psychological impact of the pandemic, including depression and anxiety symptoms was reported as moderate to severe in 35% of females compared to 19% of males for depression, 21% of females compared to 9% of males for anxiety. 

  • Suicidal thoughts were reported in 17% of females and 14% of males.  


For any other topics on which you may be seeking expert comment, please contact the Monash University Media Unit on +61 3 9903 4840 or media@monash.edu

For the latest COVID-19 research news, expert opinion, and updates, visit the COVID-19 updates site

For more Monash news, thought leadership and opinion, visit Lens.