"Covid-19 and Mental Health in Italy" by Veronica Grembi (University of Milan)

This lecture was part of the MWP Multidisciplinary Research Workshop: “Turning the Tide: Contemporary Challenges to Health and Healthcare in Europe and Beyond”.
The workshop was organised by Max Weber Fellows: Tamara Popic, Alexandru Moise, Mirjam Reutter, Katarzyna Doniec, Takuya Onoda, Aline Bertolin.

“Covid-19 and Mental Health in Italy”
An increasing number of studies shows the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health regardless of the different institutional contexts and responses to the emergency, as is apparent from evidence from the US and the UK, to name a few.

In the light of these results, the experience of some population groups, among which healthcare workers, is expected to be even more dramatic. Consistent with evidence on past disease outbreaks (e.g., severe acute respiratory syndrome – SARS) and with the effects detected in the overall population, by the end of the first wave (spring 2020) of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare personnel had experienced a dramatic deterioration of their mental health, showing clear signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and burnout.

I present the results of an experiment where we randomized the elicitation of religiosity to healthcare personnel in Italy. Religiosity is considered a coping mechanism in distress situation. Relying on a survey of more than 15,000 respondents conducted from June to August 2020, we show that priming religiosity in healthcare workers decreases by 9.5% the level of self-assessed mental distress experienced during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Moving from the analysis of these results, I address the fact that female respondents on average show higher level of distress to provide more insights on the gap in mental health during the pandemic, within the healthcare profession and on the general population.

Source: Youtube