Mental distress during the coronavirus pandemic in Israel: Who are the most vulnerable?

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Abstract

Based on Pearlin’s stress process model and the social inequality approach to health, this study used a social lens to explore the role of socioeconomic inequities in mental distress during the COVID-19 pandemic in Israel. Specifically, we examined people’s pre-pandemic sociodemographic characteristics and economic situation, and the economic effects of the pandemic itself on mental distress. A real-time survey was conducted in May 2020 among 273 adults (ages 20–68), and hierarchical linear models were employed. Findings indicated that groups vulnerable to mental distress in routine times (e.g., women, people with economic difficulties) showed the same pattern during the pandemic. Not only was unemployment related to mental distress, so too was a reduction in work hours. The pandemic’s economic effects (e.g., needing to take out loans, having a worsening financial situation) were also associated with increased mental distress. This study is one of very few studies to explore a wide range of socioeconomic factors and their association with mental distress during the current crisis. The findings call for broader interventions to alleviate the economic distress caused by the pandemic to promote mental health, especially for groups that were vulnerable before the crisis and those most affected economically following the pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Article number124
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Economic effects
  • Mental distress
  • Mental health
  • Social support
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Unemployment

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