Younger Australians are doing it tougher in lockdowns than others as millions around the country stare down the barrel of COVID-19's devastating third wave.
Distress and loneliness felt by young Australians has risen to its highest levels since the pandemic began, data released by the Australian Health and Welfare Institute as part of their biennial welfare report card has shown.
Around 13 million Australians remain in lockdown as governments and health authorities work to contain the spread of the deadly Delta variant ripping through NSW, Victoria, and the ACT.
The results come from the Australian National University's Centre for Social Research and Methods longitudinal survey, which revealed more than half of the 3000 surveyed felt more negative about the future compared to the first wave of infections.
It also showed half felt they were more stressed than last year and more than a quarter had more strained relationships.
But 18 months into the pandemic, those aged between 18 and 24 years old felt the brunt of lockdowns even more than other age groups.
When young Australians were asked how lonely they had felt in the past week during August 2021,14 per cent answered most or all of the time.
It marked a 6 per cent jump on the previous figures in April and a 2 per cent increase on the responses given in April 2020 when lockdowns first began.
The paper's co-author Professor Nicholas Biddle said Australians had felt the country's early successes in the pandemic had been undone by recent events.
"We've seen a big rise in worry and anxiety due to COVID-19," he said.
"The dramatic changes in the past four months have led to declines in life satisfaction, worsening in psychological distress and an increase in loneliness across Australia.
"NSW in general and Sydney in particular has experienced the worst of the change, but many other parts of the country have also been impacted.
"Australians are less satisfied with the direction of the country than at any time during the pandemic. They are also less confident in the federal, state and territory governments."
Older Australians aged 45 and above, on the other hand, experienced little change or improvement to their levels of psychological distress.
The survey's results also showed the trust in state and territory governments had weaned.
Confidence declined by 5 per cent between April and August this year to 62 per cent as minor outbreaks and the third wave plunged many back under stay-at-home orders.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced this week Canberra would remain in lockdown for at least another four weeks until the region could reach higher vaccination rates and reduce the number of positive cases infectious in the community.
NSW has maintained a rolling seven-day average of more than 1000 cases for all of September but is eyeing an easing of restrictions once the state passes the 70 per cent double vaccination target.
Victorian authorities are expected to soon release a roadmap out of restrictions as it undergoes its sixth lockdown since March last year.
Study co-author Professor Matthew Gray said the data showed lockdowns were having a negative impact on people's mental health as some experienced their fifth or sixth round of it.
"These lockdown blues are impacting on people's reflections on their own lives," he said.
"Australians are more likely to think that their life had gotten worse, were more likely to say that they felt more negative about the future than they were in May, were more stressed, and more likely to say that their relationship had got more difficult or strained."
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