The findings of a new study have revealed regional communities across NSW have fared better in dealing with the mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, compared to those in greater Sydney.
The study, undertaken on behalf of the Mental Health Commission of NSW, involved 2000 residents across the state including more than 600 from regional and rural areas and was based on the impact they felt last year.
More than 30 per cent of those rural and regional residents reported no negative impact to their mental health last year, compared to around 20 per cent across the greater Sydney and metropolitan areas of the state.
Of those who reported otherwise in regional areas, the study's findings still showed fewer instances of relationship, financial and practical impacts compared to metropolitan areas.
Largely, NSW Mental Health Commissioner Catherine Lourey said, that attributed to the reach of the pandemic, with regional areas not bearing the same brunt as the city.
"Unsurprisingly, the impact of COVID-19 and the associated shut-downs has been more muted in rural and regional communities than it has been in Sydney," Ms Lourey said.
However, the study did still show an impact on the mental health of many regional and rural residents, namely stress and anxiety.
"Although the negative impacts of COVID-19 were less, around one-third of rural and regional residents reported being more anxious, more stressed and less in control than usual during 2020," Ms Lourey said.
"Overall, younger Sydney metro residents were more likely to report either negative or positive impacts than older people living in rural or regional NSW."
Those positive impacts included being more careful with money, less road and public transport congestion and a slower pace of life.
"At the same time, regional and rural residents were more likely than those in the city to name looking out for neighbours and the elderly as ways in which their community has benefited from the COVID-19 pandemic," Ms Lourey said.
Mental health responses to the most recent stay-at-home orders in greater Sydney are yet to be measured, but Ms Lourey said 'pandemic fatigue' may well have increased negative mental health experiences for many people.