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Mental Health Functioning After Extended Lockdown

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Graduate School of Social Service Professor Dana Alonzo, Ph.D., and Associate Professor Marciana Popescu, Ph.D. have just published research exploring mental health effects of extended lockdown during COVID-19.

The article, titled “Back to ‘Normal’? Mental Health Functioning After Extended Lockdown during the COVID-19 Pandemic,” appeared in the International Journal of Emergency Mental Health and Human Resilience.

The abstract is as follows:

Objectives: Research has established an increased risk of psychological distress related to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly in marginalized, low-income communities. However, it remains unclear if mental health symptoms remit once extended lockdown periods are ended. To address this gap, we report on changes in mental health functioning between lockdown and post-lockdown periods in high-risk communities in Guatemala. Methods: Thirty (30) participants who took place in a larger baseline study examining the initial impact of Covid-related lockdown agreed to participate in a follow-up telephone survey conducted 3 months post-lockdown and serve as the sample for this study. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the sample. Bivariate analyses examined differences between lockdown and post-lockdown mental health functioning using paired samples t-tests. Multivariate analyses were performed using multiple linear regressions. Results: We found significant increases in anxiety, depression, stress, and burnout from the lockdown to post-lockdown. We further found that individuals reporting greater control over the environment were significantly less likely to endorse stress at the post-lockdown period, and that the impact of control over environment on depression is stronger for males than females. Conclusion: Recognition of the long-term impact of extended lockdown on mental health functioning is important to normalize and validate the experiences of those individuals with on-going distress. In high-risk, low resource communities, challenges related to development and delivery of mental healthcare and psycho-education at the community level regarding mental well-being require special consideration.

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