Covid takes toll on carers’ mental health: survey

A survey has found that half people who have had to tend to elderly family members amid this wave of Covid-19 infections have shown signs of moderate to severe depression.

The poll, commissioned by the Hong Kong Christian Service, interviewed 287 family caregivers – with 20 percent of them aged 65 or above – about the difficulties and stress they faced.

The survey was conducted in April, not long after the peak of the fifth Covid wave that was underlined by a high fatality rate among elderly patients.

The NGO said carers felt most stressed out by a lack of accurate medical information and difficulty understanding the government’s isolation arrangements, as well as confusion over how to report self-test positive results.

It found that one out of 10 respondents had thought about harming themselves or committing suicide amid the outbreak.

“The stress level was so high that they didn’t know how to deal with it. When they realised their elderly [relatives] tested positive, they didn’t know what to do. They have no way out to release their pressure,” explained Christine Tam, a service development officer from the organisation.

“They may think – is it the end of the world? And they had no way to seek help from others,” said Tam.

She said community services like daycare centres for the elderly had been suspended, and leisure venues that carers used to visit were also closed during the fifth wave, and all of this had had an impact on the mental well-being of the caretakers.

The organisation called on the government to better coordinate local bodies to distribute anti-epidemic resources and enhance emotional support for families with Covid patients.