Open J Psychiatry Allied Sci. 2020 Dec 24. [Epub ahead of print]

Economic hardships during pandemics and its impact on mental health: a narrative review with special focus on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Patchaikannu G.

Abstract

Economic crisis during pandemics has an obviously significant impact on the mental health of people. The uncertainty of economic conditions leaves people uncertain about their future, and, would trigger mental health conditions like stress, depression, anxiety, substance use, and also, re-emergence of pre-existing mental health issues. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has created job losses in various sectors and, the rise in unemployment will be an unavoidable consequence. Literature has pointed out to the causal relationship between unemployment and depression. Suicidal behaviour during the economic crisis is a significant psychological issue. Poor financial conditions could also affect children’s mental health due to disruption in the availability of nutrition and essential commodities, mental health issues in parents, and poor quality of parenting. The increase in alcohol consumption and the grey-market of alcohol noted in the time of COVID-19 pandemic are of utmost concern. Active labour market programmes are the need of the hour due to the rising unemployment rate. Family support programmes and debt relief programmes could help vulnerable families, and, prevent mental health issues in vulnerable groups, including the child and adolescent age groups. Strict control over the grey-market of alcohol, and, an increase in alcohol prices via government agencies would help prevent alcohol-related problems which are indirectly related to economic burden. Teleconsultation services would further help to manage those affected by the economic crisis and psychological issues.

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