In light of the recent anti-lockdown protests, a Charles Sturt University study has found that rates of depression and anxiety in frontline workers are more than double that of the general population during the pandemic.
The study measured the impact that COVID-19 has had on police, paramedics, community health and child protection staff.
It focused on those frontline workers who were not based in hospitals, as research has already been carried out in this area.
1542 frontline workers who responded to the survey, stated they were experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress and burnout.
Rates of depression experienced by these frontline workers was 57 per cent higher than that experienced by hospital based health staff, and anxiety was 40 per cent higher than hospital based workers during COVID-19.
Dr Stacey Jenkins, the sub dean of learning and teaching for CSU's School of Business in Wagga, who was one of the co-investigators on the project, called the findings "alarming".
"We are all going through challenging times, but when you are dealing with the public sector and looking at 40 per cent of them considering quitting, that's very alarming," she said.
"The thought that they might leave their jobs, particularly from a regional perspective, who mans that?
"If people are intending to quit in regional areas, we already have a spill shortage, then that's a double whammy."
Dr Jenkins said she is even more worried about frontline workers leaving their role with recent events occurring such as the protests in Sydney and Melbourne.
"When we did this survey, it was back in November and December 2020, we all thought then things were starting to look good, you know even if they were stressed and burnt-out, they were starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel," she said.
"But now we are seeing the riots with the police and again they are facing extra stress. The police they sometimes have a bad name, but they are having to enforce things they wouldn't normally have to force.
"They don't always have the legislation that is necessary to back them up for the roles they are currently asked to do, which is causing them a lot of stress and anxiety."
- Lifeline 13 11 14; Beyond Blue 1300 224 636
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