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Improving Women's Mental Health During a Pandemic

Author

Listed:
  • Michael Vlassopoulos

    (Economics Department, Social Sciences, University of Southampton, UK)

  • Abu Siddique

    (Economics Group, Technical University of Munich)

  • Tabassum Rahman

    (School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle)

  • Debayan Pakrashi

    (Department of Economic Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur)

  • Asad Islam

    (Centre for Development Economics and Sustainability (CDES) and Department of Economics, Monash University)

  • Firoz Ahmed

    (Economics Discipline, Khulna University)

Abstract

In low-income settings, women are vulnerable to the psychological distress caused by the social and economic impact of epidemics and other large-scale shocks. This paper evaluates a randomized telecounseling intervention aimed at mitigating the mental health impact of COVID-19 on a sample of 2,402 women across 357 villages in Bangladesh. We find that the provision of mental support to participating women improves their mental health leading to reductions of 26% in the prevalence of moderate and severe stress and 60% in depression relative to women in the control group. We also find improvements in household food security and time invested in children. Finally, we examine the impact of the intervention on a range of other outcomes and attitudes: subjective well-being, preventive health behavior, and women's empowerment and find significant advances throughout. Our results suggest that this type of low-cost intervention can be effective in providing rapid psychological support to vulnerable groups in times of crises.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Vlassopoulos & Abu Siddique & Tabassum Rahman & Debayan Pakrashi & Asad Islam & Firoz Ahmed, 2021. "Improving Women's Mental Health During a Pandemic," Munich Papers in Political Economy 11, TUM School of Governance at the Technical University of Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:aiw:wpaper:11
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Mental health; COVID-19; food security; telecounseling; randomized experiment; women empowerment; rural Bangladesh.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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