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Post-pandemic mental health of Brazilians is one of the worst in the world

The world has not yet recovered from impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on emotional health and Brazil is one of the most affected countries, according to a report by Global Mind Project, which publishes annual data on well-being on the planet. The project seeks to map the situation, understand trends and propose prevention measures.

O document was prepared based on surveys carried out with 420 thousand people, in 71 countries and in 13 languages, and used a mental health quotient that assesses cognitive and emotional abilities, including the ability to deal with stress and function productively. According to the authors, the index is not a synonym for happiness or satisfaction, as a person can go through difficult or sad moments and still be able to deal with them well.

The average score across all countries shows that mental well-being remained at the same levels as during the pandemic, with no change in the 2021 and 2022 indices. The Dominican Republic, Sri Lanka and Tanzania have the best scores. Brazil, alongside South Africa and the United Kingdom, occupies the last position . Of all respondents, 38% feel “improving” and 27% are “distressed” and “struggling”. In Brazil, the proportion of distressed people is higher (34%). Young people under 35 are the most affected.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on mental health due to a series of stressful factors, such as social isolation, health concerns, economic uncertainty and loss of loved ones”, assesses psychiatrist Elton Kanomata, from Hospital Israelita Albert. Einstein. “Brazil was significantly affected, with high rates of infection, mortality and economic shock. The prolonged impact of the pandemic may have contributed to chronic stress and anxiety, compromising the mental health of the population.”

According to the study, the persistence of low mental health rates may indicate that the new dynamics brought about by the pandemic, such as remote work, hyperconnectivity and changes in lifestyle, may be making it difficult to return to previous levels of emotional well-being.

“While remote work offers flexibility and convenience for many people, it can also lead to a blurring of work and personal lives, making it difficult to disconnect and set healthy boundaries. Reports of longer working hours and less time for lunch or coffee breaks, for example, have been very common when compared to the pre-pandemic period. Furthermore, the lack of social interaction in the workplace can lead to loneliness and isolation, negatively affecting mental health”, says the expert.

Associated factors

The research also detected that factors such as getting your first smartphone early, frequently eating ultra-processed foods and a lack of family relationships and friendships are associated with worsening mental health. “Excessive smartphone use, especially at younger ages, can be linked to mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and loneliness. Constant access to technology can lead to digital dependence, worse sleep quality and reduced direct contact and interaction with other people, which can negatively affect emotional well-being”, says Kanomata.

Ultra-processed foods, in turn, are generally rich in saturated fats, refined sugars and additives, and several studies suggest that the quality of the diet can affect mental health. The report found that more than half of those who eat ultra-processed foods daily are in the “distressed” or “struggling” category, compared to just 18% of those who rarely eat this type of food.

Social and family relationships play a crucial role in people’s mental health. “A positive family environment, with emotional support, open communication and healthy relationships, promotes emotional well-being and helps protect against mental health problems. On the other hand, family conflicts, lack of support and family dysfunction can increase the risk of developing mental health problems”, recalls the Einstein psychiatrist. For the specialist, it is important to recognize these challenges and implement effective self-care and emotional support strategies to deal with them.

Know signs that mental health is not going well

Source: CNN Brasil

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