Aussies' resilience takes significant hit from COVID-19 and natural disasters

Aussies' resilience takes significant hit from COVID-19 and natural disasters | Insurance Business Australia

Aussies' resilience takes significant hit from COVID-19 and natural disasters

Australians have had a lot on their plates since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country. With bushfires, floods, and other natural disasters devastating different areas in the country amid the pandemic, no wonder Australians' resilience has taken a big tumble over the past year, according to global resilience training group Driven's latest report.

The report – called National Resilience Index, Australia 2021 – explored the impact of national events on Australia's national mental health and wellbeing. It also analysed how Australia's resilience fared compared to other countries over the same period.

It found that only 9% of Australians have a level of resilience that is considered “protective” against anxiety and depression. Meanwhile, the remaining 91% reported behaviours and characteristics synonymous with sub-optimal levels of resilience, putting them at increased risk of poorer mental health outcomes, including anxiety and depression – with June 2021 recording the lowest level of national resilience since the start of the pandemic.

Comparing different industries, the report found that the financial services industry started with the highest levels of resilience in the third quarter of 2019 but ended at the lowest point in July 2021. Meanwhile, in the second quarter of 2021, the emergency services and healthcare industries were below the resilience benchmark of 70%.

Read more: ICA calls for policy changes to improve natural disaster resilience

Resilience experts are calling for a National Resilience Index to consistently monitor Australians' mental health and wellbeing, with resilience training and resilience first aid recommended as key elements of mental health recovery.

Driven consultant psychologist Maria Ruberto commented that building mental resilience gives us the capacity to lead more functional and intentional lives.

“There has been so much focus on the ‘catastrophe’ during 2021 that there's been very little clarity about where we are going,” Ruberto said. “Building strong resilience is firstly about identifying our current capacity; what we do well, and then reset our vision toward moving forward. Most importantly, is our attention to our internal states by training ourselves to understand our emotions, allowing us to achieve our goals and live with intention.”

Australian employees had also called on their employers to address mental health in the workplace, with 80% of Australian employees surveyed last year wanted workplaces to double down on mental health initiatives, according to Allianz.

Some employers have already implemented initiatives during the pandemic, with six in 10 employees surveyed claiming that their employers had already introduced mental health programmes.