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1 in 3 adults face psychological distress due to Covid-19: Report

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on January 31, 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has escalated psychological distress among adults, researchers at Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore, reported in the journal PLOS ONE.

According to the report, one in three adults, particularly women, younger adults, and those of lower socioeconomic status are experiencing psychological distress related to the pandemic, as per an official press release published in the journal Eurekalert!.

"Understanding these factors is crucial for designing preventive programmes and mental health resource planning during the rapidly evolving Covid-19 outbreak," said Professor Tazeen Jafar, from the Health Services and Systems Research Programme at Duke-NUS, who led the study. "These factors could be used to identify populations at high risk of psychological distress so they can be offered targeted remote and in-person interventions."

Researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 68 studies conducted during the pandemic, including 288,830 participants from 19 countries. They assessed the risk factors related to anxiety and depression among the general population.

As per their findings, women, younger adults, individuals of lower socioeconomic status, those living in rural areas and those at high risk of infection were more likely to experience psychological distress such as anxiety or depression.

"The lower social status of women and less preferential access to healthcare compared to men could potentially be responsible for the exaggerated adverse psychosocial impact on women," the researchers said. "Thus, outreach programmes for mental health services must target women proactively."

Younger adults, aged 35 and under, were more prone to experiencing psychological distress than those over the age of 35.

The reasons, however, are unclear. Previous studies have indicated that younger adults are more likely to face mental health issues owing to broader access to Covid-19 information through the media.

According to the report, a stronger support system including family and social support and using positive coping strategies can help reduce the risk of psychological distress.

Published on January 31, 2021

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