Key information 

Te Hiringa Mahara is producing a series of short reports during the course of 2022 and 2023 to add our collective understanding of the wellbeing impacts of the pandemic and to provide key insights on wellbeing areas or populations of focus. 

Impact of COVID-19 on the wellbeing of older people in Aotearoa New Zealand - November 2022

In this report, we show that older people contributed greatly through the pandemic, often coping and supporting others across a range of areas - despite often facing worse impacts of the pandemic.

The report also shows the following:

  • While older people tend to experience better wellbeing than other age groups across a range of measures, predictably, the pandemic had negative impacts on wellbeing.
  • Different parts of the older community experienced the pandemic in different ways – the challenges faced often exacerbated existing inequities in wellbeing, and the factors that affect it.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has changed attitudes toward ageing and older people, with older people being positioned as vulnerable, less adaptable and a burden on the rest of society.
  • Older Māori, Pacific and Asian people were often highly connected within their own communities, highlighted by their ability to leverage whānau and community support to access health services, food and necessities.
  • Whilst the pandemic led to more loneliness amongst older members of the community, kaumātua worked hard to maintain connections with their communities and whānau in a variety of different ways.

It is important that our understanding of the pandemic, and our planning for the future – both responding to crises and supporting wider wellbeing – recognises that older people are not one monolithic group.

We call for greater involvement of older people in decision-making that affects them, greater understanding of and research into the diverse needs and experiences of older communities, and greater recognition and leverage of the agency and contributions of those communities.

(Link to the report)

Media reporting of COVID-19 and mental health and wellbeing - October 2022

Our first report Media reporting of COVID-19 and mental health and wellbeing [PDF, 288 KB] provides a scene-setter for the rest of the series.

The wellbeing analysis in the report draws on the He Ara Oranga Wellbeing Outcomes Frameworkwhich describes the aspects of good wellbeing in Aotearoa and guides the way we monitor the systems that influence wellbeing in our communities. 

In this report we publish analysis to better understand how mental health has been reflected in media coverage of COVID-19 in Aotearoa. The findings are presented in short, summary form; with a longer technical report providing greater detail on the data, methodology, and findings.

Drawing on more than 3000 publicly available media articles, we used natural language processing to investigate and to explore media coverage by mainstream news media and how this changed over the pandemic. 

The report identifies nine broad themes and six sub-themes that describe the impacts of the pandemic on mental health in New Zealand. In short:  

  • Media coverage on the mental health problems contributed to by the pandemic has been concentrated on the changes to people’s work, education, and lifestyle, the material impacts of this, and loneliness. 
  • Media coverage on mental health solutions has focused on resources, chiefly access to services, supports and resources. 
  • Distress and other impacts of the pandemic have frequently been normalised and universalised in media coverage.

These are important factors, but this narrow view misses out other factors that we know are important to mental health in Aotearoa. 

Understanding mental health requires understanding the broader aspects of good wellbeing – including connection, hope, rights, self-expression, and self-determination of individuals and communities. In the pandemic context, this would mean considering mental health much more broadly than the direct impacts on health and work.  

Everybody experiences wellbeing differently, based on a variety of factors; and some communities experience poorer wellbeing across a range of measures. If we are to improve wellbeing for all, we need to understand these experiences, and ensure everyone is supported to flourish. 

Media reporting of COVID-19 and mental health and wellbeing [PDF, 288 KB]


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