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Abstract:

The aim of this paper is to explore the relationship between mental health outcomes and relationship quality during the COVID-19 period. We find that after a significant worsening in mental health outcomes between February 2017 and April 2020, there was strong evidence for improvements between April and May and weaker evidence for a further improvement between May and the end of June/start of July. However, for those Australians under the age of 45, psychological distress is still at a higher level than it was prior to the spread of COVID-19. We find that a number of people have reported negative changes to their subjective circumstances. Only 22.5 per cent of the population are estimated to have not experienced any of the negative changes during the COVID-19 period from our dataset compared to 51.6 per cent who reported no improvements in the same measures. The majority of respondents reported no change in relationship quality, and for those who did report a change, there was a net improvement. We find a very strong relationship between self-reported changes in outcomes and psychological distress, with a particularly strong relationship between changes in stress, loneliness and relationships and mental health outcomes.

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