The researcher emphasizes that “there is still a huge need to invest in mental health.”
A study by the Institute of Public Health of the University of Porto (ISPUP), which involved 929 people, concluded that the majority of participants with symptoms of depression and anxiety associated their worsening with the covid-19 pandemic.
In an interview with Lusa, researcher Ana Sofia Aguiar explained that the study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders Reports, arose out of “the need to assess the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on the mental health of the Portuguese.” …
The study, which was conducted on the basis of an online survey using the snowball method, was attended by 929 people, mainly women (70.9%) and with higher education (75.4%).
More than half of the participants were between the ages of 18 and 39 and lived in the northern region of the country (63.5%).
Information gathered between November 2020 and February 2021 led the researchers to conclude that of the 929 participants, 26.9% had symptoms of anxiety, 7% of depression, and 20.4% of both disorders, “especially after starting treatment.” pandemic”.
In addition, 23.1% of participants developed moderate anxiety symptoms and 17% developed depression, also moderately.
“I did not expect to find such a high prevalence, given that we have a highly educated population that is more protected from the economic and social consequences that prevail in our country due to the pandemic,” said Ana Sofia Aguiar.
According to the researcher, “the vast majority of participants (521) associated worsening anxiety and depression symptoms with the pandemic.”
Of the more than 900 participants, 7.9% have been unemployed since the onset of the covid-19 pandemic and 6.8% have been food insecure, meaning they have been unable to access nutritionally adequate food for economic reasons.
“It was concluded that younger people, women, better educated citizens and those in food insecurity posed an increased risk of developing anxiety symptoms,” he added.
Researcher highlights lack of investment in mental health
Given the findings, Ana Sofia Aguiar emphasized that “there is still a huge need for investment in mental health”.
“Right now, there is still stigma and mysticism around what mental health is. This is frowned upon by the general population and is still a problem.“, he said.
In addition to the stigma associated with mental health, the researcher defended another problem – “lack of adequate communication”.
“With regard to the public health agenda and the country, particular attention should be paid to the burden of disability associated with anxiety disorders in Portugal,” he added.
The study is part of Ana Sofia Aguiar’s doctoral project, which received funding from the Science and Technology Foundation (FCT) and the European Social Fund Program.