August 24, 2020 by Dymphna

The scariest Covid-stat I’ve seen

The nation’s parents are hurting… hard.

I’ve got a question for Scott Morrison:

What’s the point?

Now, you know me. I’m not one to be handing out free-passes to our politicians. But credit where credit’s due. I think by-and-large our leaders have made a fairly decent fist of things.

Given how complex the situation has been, and given there have been no play-books to go to, we’ve done a pretty good job. Sure, there’s been a few stumbles here and there. But by and large, it could have been a lot worse.

And on the economic front, the evidence largely speaks for itself. Covid could have brought the whole show crashing down, but the economic first-response – and JobKeeper and the JobSeeker supplement in particular – have pulled us back from the brink of ruin.

So hat’s off. Well done.

But a nation is not an economy. A nation is its people.

And on that front, the signs are starting to look a little worrying.

The Melbourne Institute recently released a study into Australian’s mental health, and the results are actually terrifying. Parents in particular are doing it tough:

Parents with children at home appear to be faring the worst when it comes to mental and financial stress.

“Parents represent a large proportion of the working age population,” Melbourne Institute’s Dr Susan Méndez says.

“COVID-19 is adding to the stress parents face on a daily basis – which can have flow-on effects to employment, finances and the wellbeing of partners and children. As we look toward economic recovery, governments and employers may need to consider targeted policies designed to support this specific group of Australians”…

With the COVID-19 pandemic, they are now the most distressed group: 25% of fathers whose youngest child is aged 0 to four and 33% of fathers whose youngest child is aged five to 11 report high levels of mental distress.

Among women, mothers used to have better mental health than childless women; now they have lost that advantage. Overall, they are now noticeably worse off than women without kids. Among mothers, mental distress has increased the most (from 9% to 22%) for mothers of older children (youngest child aged 12 to 18).

Childless men and women have also experienced increased levels of mental distress with COVID but less so than parents.

That stat about 33% of fathers reporting high levels of mental stress (up from 8% pre-Covid) is mind-blowing… and downright terrifying.

And I can tell you – as someone who has spent a lot of time working with people in financial panic – that this stuff can really tear a marriage apart. Once you’re stressed, everything becomes hard – and the people you love often cop it the worst.

Is Covid going to leave us with a legacy of broken homes?

This should be ringing some serious alarm bells.

And while we’ve done some great work saving the economy, the economy is not the point.

People are the point.

We need to meet this challenge head on – in a coordinated way – before Covid leaves scars in the fabric of Australian society that will take a generation to heal.

So you’ve done some great work, Scotty. Good on you. But the job’s not done.

People are the point.

And the people are hurting.