Loneliness most common stressor during COVID-19

Released
18/05/2020

Loneliness was the most widely reported source of personal stress for Australians during April, according to the third ABS Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey.

ABS Program Manager for Household Surveys, Michelle Marquardt, said loneliness affected more women (28 per cent) than men (16 per cent).

“Around one in five people (19 per cent) also reported that they were experiencing difficulties maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which was more of a problem for those aged 18 to 64 years (22 per cent) than those aged 65 years and over (9 per cent),” added Ms Marquardt.

The survey also highlighted changes to people’s lifestyles during the period early-April to early-May, including:

  • 22 per cent who said they are eating more snack foods such as chips, lollies and biscuits;
  • 14 per cent who said they are consuming more alcohol, and 10 per cent who said they are consuming less;
  • 58 per cent who reported spending more time in front of their television, computer, phone or other device; and
  • 29 per cent who reported less frequent consumption of takeaway or delivered meals, while 38 per cent spent more time cooking or baking.
     

Compared with March, fewer people were taking the following precautions in late-April to early-May:

  • keeping distance from people (94 per cent compared with 98 per cent in March);
  • purchasing additional household supplies (21 per cent compared with 47 per cent in March); and
  • purchasing additional medical supplies (8 per cent compared with 29 per cent in March).
     

The proportion of Australians who said they were wearing a face mask remained about the same – 17 per cent in March and 15 per cent in late-April to early-May.

“Australians have also made significant changes to their working lives, with nearly half (46 per cent) of all working Australians working from home in late April and early May,” Ms Marquardt said.

“Of those who were not working from home, 89% reported they couldn’t due to the type of job they had."

“Women were more likely than men to have been working from home (56 per cent compared with 38 per cent).”

Ms Marquardt added that “During the period from early April to early May, one in six Australians aged 18 years and over (17 per cent) used a Telehealth service. Almost half (43 per cent*) said the Telehalth service was a replacement for a previously arranged face-to-face appointment.”

The ABS would like to thank those Australian households that contributed to these survey results. The ABS plans to release additional information about the experiences and impacts with COVID-19 on these households over the next few months.

If you would like to talk to someone about your mental health, you can contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Media notes

  • Proportion marked with an asterisk (*) has a margin of error >10 percentage points which should be considered when using this information.
  • When reporting ABS data, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or ABS) must be attributed as the source.
  • Information on ABS products being produced to measure the impact of COVID-19 on Australia can be found on the ABS website.
  • For media requests and interviews, contact the ABS Media Team media@abs.gov.au