Fear and depression in locked-down Melbourne


Medical professionals have expressed concern over mental health, as Australia’s second largest city – Melbourne – moves into the 12th week of “lockdown 2.0.” Photo: Chris Skitch (CC BY 2.0)

Melbourne’s second lockdown has seen an increase in mental health issues, prompting concern from some of Australia’s leading medical experts.

The lockdown – considered to be one of the harshest ones in the world – began in early August.

In late September, thirteen medical professionals wrote to Premier Daniel Andrews, requesting stage 4 restrictions be eased in light of various health concerns.

They included prominent Australian GP Professor John Murtagh, who believes Victoria is experiencing a ‘mental health crisis’.

‘It’s being called a disaster by the medical groups – and it is a disaster,’ he says, adding that anxiety is especially prominent amongst Victorians.

‘Anyone can have anxiety but some people are more prone to it now.’

Along with anxiety, Professor Murtagh points to increased rates of depression, as ‘anxiety and depression go hand in hand’.

He says these issues are caused by a sense of ‘entrapment.’

‘This may even lead to long-term problems…You can get phobia from being locked up, so this may cause a type of phobia, a bit like claustrophobia,’ he says.

‘People feel trapped in the lockdown situation, a bit confined to the small space, confined to home, and that makes them prone to all of the tensions that go on in the home – people getting irritable and angry.’

Above: Professor Murtagh outlines some of the key mental health concerns during Melbourne’s second lockdown 

Fear is also on the rise, with Victorians reportedly describing fearing the unknown environment of the future.

School students are subject to much of this uncertainty, as the circumstances of the lockdown affect their learning.

‘If they can’t get to their usual environments, can’t do their usual studies, if their schooling is dislocated, that will affect them, and they will worry about it,’ Professor Murtagh said.

He says restrictions could have a negative impact on physical health as well, and recently told Seven News that a fear of catching Covid-19 may be preventing some people from seeking help for illnesses other than the virus.

While he would like restrictions ‘just lightened a little bit’, he maintains that the public health measures are still important for the state’s efforts to get the pandemic under control.

‘We just want [them] to not be so drastic,’ he says.

Since stage 4 restrictions were imposed, mental health services such as Beyond Blue and Lifeline have reported a significant increase in Victorians calling to receive assistance.


If you need support, the number for Lifeline is 13 11 14, or visit beyondblue.org.au