Impacts of the Covid-19 lockdown and relevant vulnerabilities on capability well-being, mental health and social support: an Austrian survey study.
Simon J., Helter TM., White RG., van der Boor C., Łaszewska A.
BACKGROUND: Impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and its public health measures go beyond physical and mental health and incorporate wider well-being impacts in terms of what people are free to do or be. We explored the impacts of the Covid-19 lockdown and relevant vulnerabilities on capability well-being, mental health and social support in Austria. METHODS: Adult Austrian residents (n = 560) provided responses to a cross-sectional online survey about their experiences during Covid-19 lockdown (15 March-15 April 2020). Instruments measuring capabilities (OxCAP-MH), depression and anxiety (HADS), social support (MSPSS) and mental well-being (WHO-5) were used in association with six pre-defined vulnerabilities using multivariable linear regression. RESULTS: 31% of the participants reported low mental well-being and only 30% of those with a history of mental health treatment received treatment during lockdown. Past mental health treatment had a significant negative effect across all outcome measures with an associated capability well-being score reduction of - 6.54 (95%CI, - 9.26, - 3.82). Direct Covid-19 experience and being 'at risk' due to age and/or physical health conditions were also associated with significant capability deprivations. When adjusted for vulnerabilities, significant capability reductions were observed in association with increased levels of depression (- 1.77) and anxiety (- 1.50), and significantly higher capability levels (+ 3.75) were associated with higher levels of social support. Compared to the cohort average, individual capability impacts varied between - 9% for those reporting past mental health treatment and + 5% for those reporting one score higher on the social support scale. CONCLUSIONS: Our study is the first to assess the capability limiting aspects of lockdown and relevant vulnerabilities alongside their impacts on mental health and social support. The negative capability well-being, mental health and social support impacts of the Covid-19 lockdown were strongest for people with a history of mental health treatment. Future public health policies concerning lockdowns should pay special attention to improve social support levels in order to increase public resilience.