From facts to feelings: Navigating the complexities of COVID-19 restrictions, perceptions, and mental well-being




Gregory, Madeline
Reeves, Jennifer T. H.
Danyluk, Alexa
Legg, Nicole K.
Phiri, Peter
Rathod, Shanaya
Turner, Brianna
Paterson, Theone S. E.

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Psychiatry Research


Objectives of the present study were to 1) examine accuracy of COVID-19 public health restriction knowledge and the impact of information source, 2) assess the effect of perceived level of restriction on perceived infection risk of COVID-19 infection and level of compliance with restrictions, and 3) investigate the relationship between mental health outcomes and perceived as well as actual level of restriction. Canadians (n = 5,051) completed an online survey between December 2020 and March 2021 assessing public health restriction knowledge, accuracy of this knowledge, information sources about COVID-19, perceived infection risk, compliance with restrictions, loneliness, anxiety, and depressive symptoms. Approximately half of our sample had accurate knowledge of the restrictions in their region/province, which significantly differed by province. Individuals who perceived restriction levels to be higher than they were, reported significantly greater perceived infection risk, more compliance with restrictions, worse mental health, and greater loneliness. Individuals living under moderate restrictions had better mental health and experienced less loneliness compared to minor, significant and extreme restriction levels. Findings suggest that while restrictions are beneficial for compliance, stronger and clearer restrictions should be coupled with mental health supports to remediate the negative effects of restrictions and uncertainty on mental health and loneliness.


The authors would like to thank the rest of our research team for their assistance, including Brooke Welch, Zachary Senay, Reina Stewart, and Jamie-Lee Barden.


depression, anxiety, loneliness, lockdown, public health


Gregory, M. A., Reeves, J. T. H., Danyluk, A., Legg, N. K., Phiri, P., Rathod, S., Turner, B. J., & Paterson, T. S. E. (2024). From facts to feelings: Navigating the complexities of COVID-19 restrictions, perceptions, and mental well-being. Psychiatry Research, 334, 115802.