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Study points to psychological impact of pandemic on low-income people

By Batool Ghaith - Oct 21,2021 - Last updated at Oct 22,2021

Low-income people are three times more likely to suffer severe psychological repercussions due to the pandemic compared with those with high incomes, according to a national study (Photo courtesy of unsplash.com)

AMMAN — Low-income people are three times more likely to suffer severe psychological repercussions due to the pandemic compared with those with high incomes, according to a national study.

Member of the National Committee for Pharmacovigilance and COVID-19 Vaccines and Clinical Pharmacotherapy Adviser Dirar Balawi stated that the national study evaluated the varying psychological effects of the pandemic on mental health.

Balawi noted that 65.3 per cent of Jordanians suffer from psychological effects due to the pandemic. The results of the study, carried out by a team from the University of Petra and a number of academic and medical institutions, indicate that only 7.34 per cent of the participants are classified as “fully mentally healthy”.

Balawi noted that the study included 1,820 individuals from different governorates across the Kingdom. More than half of the participants (55 per cent) were females and about a quarter of the participants were people with limited income (less than JD500 per month).

The study’s results show that there is a noticeable impact on the mental health of the participants due to the pandemic, as 11.4 per cent had severe psychological conditions and 25.4 per cent suffered moderate psychological conditions.

Balawi highlighted that people who lost their jobs during the pandemic are about one-and-a-half times more vulnerable to severe psychological repercussions compared with those who are still working.

Sociologist Hussein Khozahe said that the study’s results are “realistic and logical and reflect the reality of low-income people”. 

Low-income individuals often pay the price for crises that occur, whether economic, social or political, he added.

“This category of people is usually affected more than others because they work irregularly, such as daily labourers. Forty per cent of employment in Jordan is unstable and intermittent. Twenty-eight per cent of Jordanians have income less than JD300, while 82 per cent have income less than JD500, which is considered below the poverty line,” Khozahe told The Jordan Times on Thursday.

Most people with low incomes do not own homes and suffer from unemployment at a greater rate, Khozahe said, adding that their children also often drop out of school. 

“There is an economic, psychological and physical suffering due to the pandemic, as it has led to a significant increase in child labour in the Kingdom. It also has increased health problems for many people,” he noted.

According to Khozahe, people with low-incomes resort to managing their lives through debt and loans, which can cause major psychological stress.

The sociologist said that 43 per cent of Jordanians' income goes towards repaying loans.

Abdullah Abu Adas, a consultant of psychiatry and addiction, said that the direct impact of the pandemic affected all people in “one way or another”.

“The biopsychosocial consequences are very prominent at the beginning and during the aftermath as well,” Abu Adas told The Jordan Times on Thursday.

According to Abu Adas, people with low income were often skeptical about the general health measures and the vaccination campaign, which has further contributed to the psychosocial consequences. 

“Jordanians will need continuous psychosocial support at least for the coming five years to overcome the impact of the pandemic. Certain cases may need lifelong support,” he added.

Abu Adas noted that divorce rates have also increased due to the pandemic.

“The people who were already diagnosed with a psychological condition prior to the pandemic are at a higher rate of relapsing. The most affected among low income people are women, children, the elderly and people with special needs,” Abu Adas said.

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