Pandemic lockdowns had serious sanity c


While potentially crucial in preventing the spread of COVID-19, lockdowns are associated with increased rates of depression and anxiety as well as food insecurity among women in India and other parts of the developing world. , according to a new study.

the study from the School of Global Policy and Strategy at the University of California, San Diego finds that women whose social position may make them more vulnerable – those with daughters and those living in female-headed households – have experienced even greater declines in their mental health as a result of the lockdowns.

The article, which will be published in an upcoming issue of Journal of Economic Development, surveyed 1,545 households by telephone in various rural areas of northern India. The surveys took place in the fall of 2019, before the pandemic and in August 2020, near the peak of the first wave of COVID-19 in India. Some villages and districts had varying lockdown policies, which allowed researchers to compare the health outcomes of women who experienced lockdowns for several months with those who experienced no level of lockdown.

The authors considered many factors in their analysis, including COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths from the novel coronavirus.

For the women surveyed, moving from zero to medium levels of confinement is associated with a 38% increase in depression, a 44% increase in anxiety, and a 73% increase in exhaustion.

“Lack of access to work and socializing outside the home can be very detrimental to the mental health of women in developing countries,” said the study’s co-author. Gaurav KhannaAssistant Professor of Economics at the School of Global Policy and Strategy.

The pandemic has resulted in dramatic income losses for women. In the survey, about 25% of households reduced the number of meals consumed compared to a normal month. However, these declines have primarily affected women because in many cultures in the developing world, women’s food intake is the first to be limited when food becomes scarce.

“We wanted to know the impact of lockdown policies on women in low-income countries where social safety nets may be limited to absorb these shocks,” Khanna added. “As we found in our study, the consequences of lockdown policies are exacerbated for women. We hope that policymakers in developing countries and beyond know what the implications of these policies are, especially for people in vulnerable positions, because if there is another wave, communities could face similar blockages. .

The document presents policy recommendations that could help address the mental and physical health consequences experienced by women during the pandemic.

“Policymakers should consider what support measures are needed to limit the economic devastation from lockdowns and they should target aid, particularly food access, to vulnerable households and women,” the authors note.

For example, in parts of India, the government distributed food in rural areas, which helped prevent malnutrition and food insecurity.

Counseling and helplines offered over the phone can also help deal with the mental health impacts of the pandemic, the authors noted.

Although the findings focus on the developing world, they have implications for women around the world experiencing lockdowns.

“We suspect the impact in the United States on women and mothers in particular has also been exacerbated,” Khanna said. “When children are not in school or daycare, the burden usually falls on women due to traditional gender roles in childcare. Policy makers need to be aware that women will be affected differently by these policies. »

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