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 Table of Contents  
LETTER TO EDITOR
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 37  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 121-122

Mental health issues arising due to socioeconomic crises during the COVID-19 pandemic


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 Submission17-Jul-2020
Date of Decision27-Aug-2020
Date of Acceptance01-Sep-2020
Date of Web Publication31-Mar-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Sheikh Shoib
Department of Psychiatry, Jawahar Lal Nehru Memorial Hospital, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijsp.ijsp_217_20

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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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3] 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.[3],[4] 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.[5] 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).[6] The fall in GDP can be more than 10%–15% in the worst-case scenario.[6]

This economic crisis will have a far-reaching effect on the health and well-being of the people.[2] 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.[7],[8] Reduced job security and reduced financial security also have appalling impact on our mental health.[9] Besides unemployment, lockdown can affect self-esteem, cause deterioration in physical health, and have other consequences.[10] 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.[11] 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.[12] 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.[13]

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

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

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Wang C, Horby PW, Hayden FG, Gao GF. A novel coronavirus outbreak of global health concern. Lancet 2020;395:470-3.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Burdorf A, Porru F, Rugulies R. The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic: Consequences for occupational health. Scand J Work Environ Health 2020;46:229-30.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
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Karanikolos M, Heino P, McKee M, Stuckler D, Legido-Quigley H. Effects of the global financial crisis on health in high-income OECD countries: A narrative review. Int J Health Serv 2016;46:208-40.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
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Torá I, Martínez JM, Benavides FG, Leveque K, Ronda E. Effect of economic recession on psychosocial working conditions by workers' nationality. Int J Occup Environ Health 2015;21:328-32.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
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China's Economy Recovers from COVID Impact but There's a Lot Behind the Numbers-The Economic Times. Available from: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/business/chinas-economy-recovers-from-covid-impact-but-theres-a-lot-behind-the-numbers/articleshow/76993109.cms. [Last accessed on 2020 Aug 10].  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Nuno Fernandes. Economic Effects of Coronavirus Outbreak (COVID-19) on the World Economy. Available from: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3557504; http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn. 3557504. [Last accessed on 2020 Mar 22].  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Simou E, Koutsogeorgou E. Effects of the economic crisis on health and healthcare in Greece in the literature from 2009 to 2013: A systematic review. Health Policy 2014;115:111-9.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Bofinger P, Dullien S, Felbermayr G, Fuest C, Hüther M, Südekum J, et al. 18 Economic Implications of the COVID-19 Crisis for Germany and Economic Policy Measures. Mitigating the COVID Economic Crisis: Act Fast and Do Whatever; It Takes edited by Richard Baldwin and Beatrice Weder di Mauro, London: CEPR Press. 2020. p. 167.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Cerami C, Santi GC, Galandra C, Dodich A, Cappa SF, Vecchi T, et al. COVID-19 outbreak in Italy: Are we ready for the psychosocial and the economic crisis? Baseline findings from the PsyCovid study. Front Psychiatry 2020;11:556.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.
Brooks SK, Webster RK, Smith LE, Woodland L, Wessely S, Greenberg N, et al. The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: Rapid review of the evidence. Lancet 2020;395:912-20.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.
Mathers CD, Schofield DJ. The health consequences of unemployment: The evidence. Med J Aust 1998;168:178-82.  Back to cited text no. 11
    
12.
Berk M, Dodd S, Henry M. The effect of macroeconomic variables on suicide. Psychol Med 2006;36:181-9.  Back to cited text no. 12
    
13.
World Health Organization. Financial Crisis and Global Health: Report of a High-Level Consultation. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2009. Available from: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwjtl-jK0IXvAhVygdgFHYyLA_wQFjAAegQIAhAD&url=https%3A%2F%2Fapps.who.int%2Firis%2Fhandle%2F10665%2F70440&usg=AOvVaw3Xkd6YiJQxhuFZgyWKy84w.  Back to cited text no. 13
    




 

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