COVID restrictions are causing distress to people living with hearing loss and tinnitus

With Victoria extending COVID restrictions and lockdown for a further two weeks, Soundfair calls for greater support for people living with hearing conditions.

People with hearing conditions experience social isolation, loneliness and are at higher risk of mental health conditions. The stage 4 restrictions in Melbourne and Stage 3 restrictions in Victoria are having a disproportionately negative impact on people living with a hearing condition.

In a survey conducted by Soundfair during lockdown: 

  • 86% of respondents reported limiting their participation in social activities due to their hearing condition 
  • 67% of respondents reported feeling lonely 
  • 72% felt they didn’t belong 
  • 68% felt they sometimes or often felt anxious or depressed 
  • 60% reported not having someone to discuss the impact their hearing condition was having on their social or mental health 

Dr Caitlin Barr, CEO of Soundfair, said: “We know that the social and emotional effects of the COVID restrictions and hearing conditions can be similar, and that stage 3 and 4 restrictions are making living with a hearing condition even more difficult for many of our respondents. People with hearing conditions are more than just ears, and hearing equality is more than just devices. Soundfair is calling for the identification and removal of structural, systemic, attitudinal and service level barriers to hearing equality. For example, widespread use of clear masks and captioning as standard on all video calls and official broadcasts.

“We’ve received many calls from people who are experiencing or becoming distressed by their tinnitus (ringing in ears) and less able to cope. Tinnitus is widely known to be associated with stress. We are concerned that these side-effects of lockdown will have longstanding impacts on education, employment and wellbeing.”