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Improving Women's Mental Health During a Pandemic

Michael Vlassopoulos (), Abu Siddique (), Tabassum Rahman (), Debayan Pakrashi, Asad Islam () and Firoz Ahmed
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Tabassum Rahman: School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle

Munich Papers in Political Economy from TUM School of Governance at the Technical University of Munich

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.

Keywords: Mental health; COVID-19; food security; telecounseling; randomized experiment; women empowerment; rural Bangladesh. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I10 I12 I18 I31 O12 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 79 pages
Date: 2021-05
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hea
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