Young people, women and the unemployed most affected by anxiety

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MANILA, Philippines – Krystoffer Adam, a 30-year-old entrepreneur selling household goods, hasn’t earned any money for two weeks now after his family contracted COVID-19 and were forced to self-isolate at home .

Without a steady source of income, Adam worries about upcoming bills like office and warehouse rent, employee salaries, supplier payments, unpaid debts, taxes and regulatory fees.

Amid negative thoughts about his family’s health and the loss of some business opportunities, he thinks the pandemic could be less stressful if only there was enough help for everyone.

“Give ‘ayuda’ [dole] to people is only a temporary solution. People now need long-term solutions to survive this pandemic,” Adam said.

According to him, the government should invest and extend its financial assistance not only to the poor but also to the middle class.

“They can provide low-interest loans to small and medium-sized businesses that need additional financing for their operations. This would help small entrepreneurs continue to run their business and pay their employees. It would also be an opportunity for the government to earn interest on the loan,” Adam said.

Still, he’s luckier than some.

In a blog post on Friday, Filipino researchers from the Tokyo-based Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) think tank said that in the Philippines, the protracted COVID-19 pandemic has inflicted psychological distress mainly on young people who have been faceless. face-to-face classes, women who found themselves with more responsibilities and millions of unemployed workers.

Nina Ashley dela Cruz and Raymond Gaspar said on the ADBI blog that amid the pandemic, the mental state of Filipinos may be linked to their trust in the government as well as the national healthcare system. Thus, they lobbied to improve the response to COVID-19 in the health, education and employment sectors.

Sectors affected

“The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the psychological and social well-being of many Filipinos. Stay-at-home orders have left many people isolated and experiencing feelings of fear and anxiety, largely due to economic hardship and uncertainty,” the researchers said, citing reports from the Philippines office of the World Health Organization and the National Center for Mental Health.

“When all classes moved online, the prevailing digital divide disadvantaged poor students, especially those in more remote areas. Amid workplace closures, a large group of workers, especially part-timers and those whose work cannot be done from home, have been furloughed or faced with working hours reduced with negative consequences on their income and finances. Women, especially mothers, have taken on a greater domestic burden of household chores and childcare during the pandemic, while the elderly have long been prevented from going out due to their vulnerability to the virus,” Dela noted. Cruz and Gaspar.

They analyzed Philippine data collected by the Imperial College London-YouGov COVID-19 Behavior Tracking Data Center from weekly online surveys conducted from March to September 2020 to determine not only health status mentality of Filipinos, but also how the government’s response to the pandemic has influenced their feelings. .

“We found strong evidence that women had higher odds of experiencing considerable mental health problems. Women, especially mothers, face a greater challenge juggling paid work and household responsibilities. said the ADBI, citing a survey at the height of the stricter enhanced community quarantine from April to May 2020 that showed women were spending seven hours on housework or nearly double the pre-pandemic four hours.

“Our results also revealed that young adults aged 18 to 25 are at relatively higher risk for episodes of psychological distress,” the think tank said, referring to a 2021 study that “found a high incidence of stress, anxiety and depression in young Filipinos”. adults from 18 to 30 years old.

Another study from 2021, he added, showed that “the accumulation of worries associated with the lack of traditional milestones and the loss of economic opportunities and vital relationships leads young adults to mental distress at in the midst of the current crisis”.

Part-time employees and the unemployed are also hardest hit by the pandemic, ADBI said, as workplace closures, reduced working hours and irregular wages and salaries have led to greater economic uncertainty. , which could lead to a deterioration of their mental state.

According to the think tank, its analysis strongly linked a person’s mental health status to their perceived trust in government and the public healthcare system.

Public trust is essential

“On average, people who express strong public confidence in the national healthcare system are less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. Citizens who have confidence in the capacity, reliability, and efficiency of institutions to address pandemic-related issues can have peace of mind and a sense of assurance. The success of health authorities in mobilizing scientific expertise to combat growing forms of misinformation about the virus and measures, such as vaccination programs, also play a crucial role,” he said.

According to the ADBI, there should be targeted policy responses to alleviate the psychological pain inflicted by the protracted fight against COVID-19 on the most vulnerable sectors.

“As immunization programs are scaled up, the Philippines COVID-19 Interagency Task Force for Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases should facilitate the safe reopening of schools and face-to-face classes and forge strategic partnerships with the business sector to ensure the well-being of workers. Where possible, labor market interventions, such as career guidance and skills training, should enable individuals to navigate a more digitized economic environment,” did he declare.

Amid the pandemic, building public trust makes political sense and should always be considered when drafting public initiatives to address mental health issues, ADBI said, noting that people were susceptible to be compliant and cooperative when they trusted the government.

“The competent public authorities must therefore demonstrate strong and capable governance by setting clear directions and guidelines. Government actions must be transparent, collaborative, consistent and credible,” he added. INQ

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