|LETTER TO EDITOR
|Year : 2021 | Volume
| Issue : 1 | Page : 121-122
Mental health issues arising due to socioeconomic crises during the COVID-19 pandemic
Sheikh Shoib1, Sheikh Mohammed Shariful Islam2, Sheikh Mohd Saleem3
1 Department of Psychiatry, Jawahar Lal Nehru Memorial Hospital, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India
2 Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, Faculty of Health, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia
3 Department of Community Medicine, Government Medical College, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India
|Date of Submission||17-Jul-2020|
|Date of Decision||27-Aug-2020|
|Date of Acceptance||01-Sep-2020|
|Date of Web Publication||31-Mar-2021|
Dr. Sheikh Shoib
Department of Psychiatry, Jawahar Lal Nehru Memorial Hospital, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Shoib S, Islam SM, Saleem SM. Mental health issues arising due to socioeconomic crises during the COVID-19 pandemic. Indian J Soc Psychiatry 2021;37:121-2
|How to cite this URL:|
Shoib S, Islam SM, Saleem SM. Mental health issues arising due to socioeconomic crises during the COVID-19 pandemic. Indian J Soc Psychiatry [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Jun 19];37:121-2. Available from: https://www.indjsp.org/text.asp?2021/37/1/121/312870
The COVID-19 pandemic is a new, and never seen before, infectious disease caused by the novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2. The disease spread rapidly to other parts of the globe, including India in a short time of its origin from Wuhan province of China. As the wave of COVID-19 pandemic engulfed the whole world, it not only had a massive impact on society as an entire but also affected individual at every level. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented human and health crisis. As per its current trend, this pandemic has a varied effect on our health system and has pushed it to the limits. The society has been put under lockdown to contain the viral spread, while the global economy has taken a significant setback worldwide. Measures taken by different nations have triggered an economic downturn. At this point, there is an acute uncertainty about how long the pandemic will last, and nobody can predict its severity. The latest Global Financial Stability Report shows that the financial system has already felt a dramatic impact, and further intensification of the crisis could affect global financial stability. Soon after the outbreak of COVID-19, prices of risk assets have fallen sharply. Signs of stress have also emerged in major short-term funding markets, including the global market for U.S. dollars.
These changes have contributed to an economic recession due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Peeping into history, the last economic downturn in Finland (1990) and the recent global financial crisis (2007–2009) negatively impacted the health of people, who were mostly affected by job insecurity., The current pandemic came as a shock for most of the nations, and the major economies across the world have been negatively impacted in one way or the other. Recent reports suggest that China has been able to recover from the COVID-19 impact. China reported an increase in Gross domestic product (GDP) and a big improvement from the industrial decline during the first 3 months of the year. Overall, the reports from China suggest that both exports and imports are gaining. For other nations, it is estimated that the GDP growth would drop to 3%–6% (depending on the country) in a mild scenario and a median decline in GDP in 2020 is expected to be −2.8% (according to a study where a sample from 30 countries was taken). The fall in GDP can be more than 10%–15% in the worst-case scenario.
This economic crisis will have a far-reaching effect on the health and well-being of the people. The magnitude of effect will depend on the course of the pandemic and no accurate predictions can be made at this point. Unemployment, decreased job security, and economic hardships as a consequence of this pandemic will have repercussions on individual health and healthcare in general., Reduced job security and reduced financial security also have appalling impact on our mental health. Besides unemployment, lockdown can affect self-esteem, cause deterioration in physical health, and have other consequences. Further, psychological stress can be caused by these economic instabilities. Unemployment can lead to psychological disorders such as depression, alcohol abuse, and suicides as a result of financial strain and the absence of social security. Depression, anxiety disorders, and suicide are strongly linked to adverse life situations such as job loss. In addition, recessions can be equally stressful for those still in the workplace as the options and choices become narrower, and they fear the prospect of losing their jobs and experiencing financial difficulties. In India, most of the health programs are government sponsored and any economic losses suffered by the government indirectly affect the overall sustainability of that particular program. Among the programs and services, during this pandemic, mental health services were mostly ignored, and we anticipate that this would contribute to worst health outcomes among the sufferers. Moreover, due to recession and compromised government-run health services, more people will take services from private healthcare institutions making such services more expensive in the absence of insurance coverage.
The widespread nature of the COVID-19 pandemic requires the enforcement of durable and longer-lasting containment measures–actions that may lead to a further tightening of global financial conditions. This pandemic has offered an excellent opportunity to the people to change their mindset and increase their capacities for building social capital, invest in health insurance schemes to increase monetary components of life, and re-orient their mindset to accept these changes. The extended-enduring effects of this pandemic are not possible to be adequately estimated yet. Economic recessions at regional, national, or global seem to be unavoidable. The mental health impact on the high-risk and vulnerable population may take weeks or months to become apparent. The challenge our health system has to face will require managing these individuals with concerted efforts both from psychiatrists and health system at large.
The mental health issues after an economic crisis due to COVID-19 and any other pandemics will be varied. Still, the risks can, to a large extent, be avoided by policy measures. Need for further research in the area of mental health, particularly in those countries where the mental health infrastructure is less developed, is the need of the hour. Besides this, measures such as providing debt relief and avoiding expenditure cuts in services for people, strengthening initiatives for social protection and integration, and early screening of mental health and timely action can go a long way in improving the quality of people affected by economic crises.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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