Misconceptions About Psychiatry

Data on Worldwide Mental Health Shows The Impact of COVID-19

A new survey that assessed the mental health impact of COVID-19 across the globe shows high rates of trauma and clinical mood disorders related to the pandemic.

The survey, carried out by Sapien Labs, was conducted in eight English-speaking countries and included 49,000 adults. It showed that 57% of respondents experienced some COVID-19-related adversity or trauma.

Roughly one quarter showed clinical signs of or were at risk for a mood disorder, and only 40% described themselves as “succeeding or thriving.”

Those who reported the poorest mental health were young adults and individuals who experienced financial adversity or were unable to receive care for other medical conditions. Nonbinary gender and not getting enough sleep, exercise, or face-to-face socialization also increased the risk for poorer mental well-being.

“The data suggest that there will be long-term fallout from the pandemic on the mental health front,” Tara Thiagarajan, PhD, Sapien Labs founder and chief scientist, said in a press release.

Novel Initiative

Thiagarajan told Medscape Medical News that she was running a company that provided microloans to 30,000 villages in India. The company included a research group the goal of which was to understand what predicts success in an individual and in a particular ecosystem, she said ― “Why did some villages succeed and others didn’t?”

Thiagarajan and her team felt that “something big is happening in our life circumstances that causes changes in our brain and felt that we need to understand what they are and how they affect humanity. This was the impetus for founding Sapien Labs. ”

The survey, which is part of the company’s Mental Health Million project, is an ongoing research initiative that makes data freely available to other researchers.

The investigators developed a “free and anonymous assessment tool,” the Mental Health Quotient (MHQ), which “encompasses a comprehensive view of our emotional, social, and cognitive function and capability,” said Thiagarajan.

The MHQ consists of 47 “elements of mental well-being.” Respondents’ MHQ scores ranged from -100 to +200. Negative scores indicate poorer mental well-being. Respondents were categorized as clinical, at-risk, enduring, managing, succeeding, and thriving.

MHQ scores were computed for six “broad dimensions” of mental health. These included core cognition, complex cognition, mood and outlook, drive and motivation, social self, and mind-body connection.