Shah, Bau Investigate Lockdown Impact on Female Mental Health

Professor of Public Policy Manisha Shah and Assistant Professor of Public Policy Natalie Bau co-authored an article in Ideas for India about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health in India. Researchers conducted a large-scale phone survey across six states in rural north India to better understand how lockdown measures contributed to economic instability, food insecurity, and declines in female mental health and well-being. Bau, Shah and their co-authors found that strict lockdown measures, while necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19 infection, contributed to economic and mental distress, especially in low-income settings with limited safety nets. Gender norms and low availability of mental health services made females especially vulnerable. For example, roughly 30% of the female respondents reported that their feelings of depression, exhaustion, anxiety and perception of safety worsened over the course of the pandemic. The authors recommended that policymakers target aid, particularly access to food, to vulnerable households and women.

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