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Stricter anticovid measures linked to worse mental health

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They link stricter anticovid measures with a worse state of mental health. GETTY IMAGES.

Stronger anticovid measures, often implemented to control rather than eliminate the virus, were associated with slightly worse mental health status, according to findings from two new studies reported today by the journal The Lancet Public Health.

Experts of various nationalities found that the impact on mental health associated with lockdowns was worse in the women case.

As well as women who lived in households with dependent children compared to men of all ages.

At the national level, countries that sought to eliminate community transmission of the virus within their borders (“eliminators”).

So they experienced fewer deaths and better mental health trends during the pandemic than countries that sought to control it (“mitigators”).

Anticovid measures related to health status

During the pandemic, governments resorted to various strategies to contain transmission, although the measures used are not homogeneous.

Just as some focused on plans to achieve zero transmission – South Korea or Japan – while others – France or Spain – sought to slow transmission.

The latter combined confinements and other regulations, such as the use of masks or the prohibition of social gatherings.

“Government responses to the pandemic were debated. At first glance, it might seem that ‘eliminator’ countries implemented much harsher strategies than others, “says the study.

Similarly “because of their vetoes on international travel but, in reality, people within those borders enjoyed greater freedom in general than in ‘mitigating’ countries,” said Lara Aknin.

Aknin belongs to Canada’s Simon Fraser University and is the author of the first study.

Early research indicates that the type and timing of the restrictions played a role in determining the impact on mental health.

While the second study suggests that these effects were felt disproportionately by different groups.

biweekly data

To assess how changing restrictions affected mental health, the first study combined biweekly daily policy data with mental health data from 15 countries.

They were grouped intoeliminators» (Australia, Japan, Singapore and South Korea); or “mitigators” (Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom), based on their responses to the pandemic between April 2020 and June 2021.

Stricter measures were generally associated with lower views of the government’s handling of the pandemic.

Consequently, on mental health, and found that the assessment of the government was more positive in the “eliminating” countries.

According to the author of the second study, Rafael Goldszmidt, “mitigating strategies could be associated with worse mental health outcomes at least in part.”

Because “containment measures for long periods of time of lockdowns and social distancing can prevent social connections.”

Impact is not the same in all groups

In the second study, based on data from Australia, it was found that the impact was not felt in the same way in all demographic groups.

That analysis found that women suffered more from the mental consequences of lockdowns than men.

Likewise, in the case of women in charge of dependent minors, they suffered more negative effects on mental health.

“Women, especially those living in families with dependent children, have been hit the hardest and more likely than men of any age group to see a decline in their mental health,” noted author Mark Wooden of the Melbourne University.

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