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31/07/2021

Covid-19 sees life satisfaction in Ireland at all-time low, but majority showing resilience

Covid-19 sees life satisfaction in Ireland at all-time low, but majority showing resilience

Nearly 60% of Irish people say the Covid-19 pandemic has hit their mental health while life satisfaction in Ireland has fallen to an all-time low according to the latest official surveys.

Nevertheless, nearly three-quarters of the public are committed to suppressing the virus in line with the recommendations of Dr Tony Holohan and his NPHET team.

The Central Statistics Office has published a statement on the Social Impact of Covid-19 Survey February 2021: Well-being.

Some of the key findings are as follows:

  • Almost six in ten (57.1%) respondents reported that their mental health/well-being has been negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic
  • In February 2021, more than four in ten (41.7%) respondents rated their overall life satisfaction as Low - the highest rating for Low overall life satisfaction captured in CSO surveys to date
  • One in five (20.5%) respondents aged 18 to 34 reported being downhearted or depressed All or Most of the time in the four-week period prior to interview compared with 5.7% of those aged 70 years and over
  • In November 2020, 39.2% of respondents thought that by November 2021 their lives would return to something similar to what it was pre-COVID-19, while in February 2021, 23.6% of respondents think this will happen by November 2021
  • In November 2020, one in ten (10.2%) respondents felt the Level 5 response that was in place to manage COVID-19 related risk was Not sufficient, while in February 2021 more than one in four (26.4%) feel that the current Level 5 response is Not sufficient
  • Six in ten (61.4%) respondents believe that once current Level 5 restrictions are eased similar restrictions will be reimposed before the end of the year
  • In February 2021, three in four (75.1%) respondents rated their compliance with current government advice and guidelines as High, which is ten percentage points higher than the rate in November 2020, when 65.2% of respondents rated their compliance as High

The CSO published some of the results of the fifth round of the Social Impact of Covid-19 Survey on February 25.  It says the primary topic covered in this publication is Well-being.  Tomorrow (26 February 2021), the CSO will publish additional results from this survey which will focus on the Impact of School Closures on Students’ Learning and Social Development.

On 1 March 2021, further results from this survey will be published which will cover the topics of Holiday Plans in 2021 and Covid-19 Vaccination.

Commenting on the results, Senior Statistician, Gerry Reilly said: “The findings of the survey serve to highlight the impact that Covid-19 is having on well-being". 

Well-being

In February 2021,  the CSO says more than four in ten (41.7%) respondents rated their overall life satisfaction as ‘Low’.  This is the highest rating for ‘Low’ overall life satisfaction captured in CSO surveys to date. In 2013 when many households were suffering the effects of the 2007 financial crisis, this rate was 15.3% and it dropped to 8.7% in 2018 when the economy was growing strongly.

In April 2020, The CSO says that during the first wave, three in ten (29.6%) respondents rated their overall life satisfaction as ‘Low’. The rate increased to 35.6% in November 2020, during the second wave.

Almost six in ten (57.1%) respondents to the February 2021 survey reported that their mental health/well-being has been negatively affected by the pandemic. Almost three in four (74.4%) of those aged 18-34 reported this negative effect, compared to less than one in three (32.4%) respondents aged 70 and over. Female respondents were more likely to report that their mental health/well-being has been negatively affected by the pandemic with more than six in ten (62.4%) reporting this effect. The comparable rate for male respondents was just over five in ten (51.7%).

Overall, 4.2% of respondents reported that the pandemic has positively affected their mental health. Analysis by sex shows that female respondents were more likely to report a positive effect, with 6.7% reporting this, compared with 1.6% of male respondents.

The percentage of respondents that felt downhearted or depressed ‘All or Most of the time’ in the four-week period prior to interview was 5.5% during the first Covid-19 wave (April 2020), this rate increased to 11.5% during the second wave (November 2020) and the rate during the third wave (February 2021) is 15.1%.  Analysis by age shows that in February 2021, one in five (20.5%) respondents aged 18 to 34 reported being downhearted or depressed ‘All or Most of the time’ compared with 5.7% of those aged 70 years and over.

Almost 17% of female respondents felt lonely ‘All or Most of the time’ in the four-week period prior to interview compared with 9.2% of male respondents. Respondents living in rented accommodation were twice as likely to report feeling lonely ‘All or Most of the time’ than those in owner-occupied dwellings (22.2% vs 10.3%).

Compliance and other results

In February 2021, three in four (75.1%) respondents rated their compliance with current government advice and guidelines as ’High’. This is ten percentage points higher than the rate in November 2020, when 65.2% of respondents rated their compliance as ’High’. Respondents reporting ‘High’ compliance was lowest in June (59.9%) when the country was just about to enter Phase 3 of the Roadmap for reopening society and highest in April (80.6%) approximately one month after initial Covid-19 restrictions were implemented. 

In November 2020 one in ten (10.2%) respondents felt that the Level 5 response to managing Covid-19 related risk was ‘Not sufficient’. In February 2021 more than one in four (26.4%) feel that the current Level 5 response is ‘Not sufficient’. In November 2020, 18.3% of respondents felt that the Level 5 response to managing Covid-19 related risk was ‘Too extreme’. In February 2021 this rate has dropped to 13.1%.

In November 2020, four in ten (39.2%) respondents thought that by November 2021 their lives would return to something similar to what it was pre-Covid-19. In February 2021, 23.6% of respondents think this will happen by November 2021.

Six in ten (61.4%) respondents believe that once current Level 5 restrictions are eased that similar restrictions will be reimposed before the end of the year. Respondents living in households with children were more likely to report that they believe that similar restrictions will be reimposed with 71.0% of such respondents reporting this.

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