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Mental health forms 'perfect circle' of disadvantage

The lockdown era collided with a cost of living crisis -- and drove many into a loop of crisis, writes Louie Cina

Australia faces a mental health crisis driven by pandemic-era challenhes now fuelled by the cost of living crisis, the Salvation Army warns. Jennifer Kirkaldy, the organisation's general manager for welfare and policy, said the problems were only getting worse in what she described as a "perfect circle" of colliding problems.

“Mental health [is] a driver and a result of every other form of disadvantage,” she said.

"When people are under stress, it has an impact on their executive function.”

Mental health issues are on the rise in the post-pandemic era. (Photo: Rigos101) This is especially true for young people like Anna Gordon*, a TAFE student who lost her job and was forced to drop out of school during the pandemic.

"You can’t keep up with the demand, it creates a circle and a knock-on, where you can’t support yourself, and therefore, it just becomes worse. “[Poor] mental health can lead to things like just feeling unable to get out of bed, [feeling] unable to do things that are expected of you by society.” Ms Gordon said the pandemic built on a number of underlying issues which were compounded when she lost some of her support systems at school and work.

“It was a complete unknown ... you can see the knock on effects a few years later.” Ms Gordon said people were forced to “grow up earlier” in order to be able to keep their heads above water. Centrelink payments such as Youth Allowance are available, but a 2022 study from the National Union Of Students found that up to 450,000 students could not access the payment because they were under 22 and classified as dependents.

* Name has been changed for privacy reasons


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