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The COVID-19 Lockdown Experiences of People with Mental Health Issues

Introduction

Background

Since December 2019, COVID-19 has spread worldwide in a span of a few months. The World Health Organization (WHO) later in March 2020 declared the disease which is caused by the virus as a global pandemic. From the initial investigations conducted, evidence showed that the older populations and people living with multiple underlying health conditions are at higher risks of getting infected (Cullen et al., 2020). Significantly, evidence suggested that the COVID-19 disease-causing virus spread faster from one person to energy when one gets in contact with it on surfaces, shaking hands, or when they get closer to each other. The worst of all was the finding that the disease poses higher risks to health and, in extreme cases, death (Pfefferbaum & North, 2020). As a result, many countries were forced into lockdowns which though were temporary but long enough to impact people so as to limit the spread of the disease. The Lockdown had its own fair share of consequences to the people as the disease moved from a direct health emergency to a systematic crisis which has affected the lives of people in many ways (Hamza Shuja et al., 2020). The impacts of COVID-19 remain unprecedented since it evolves from a health shock to a global economic, social crisis.

However, research indicates that COVID-19 is among other pandemics such as varied Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. Prior studies on these diseases established them having impacts on the suffering individuals. Through these studies, the providers of healthcare showed substantial neuropsychiatric linkage. As a result, an increasing amount of research has associated the COVID-19 impacts on the mental health and the well-being of people (Pfefferbaum & North, 2020). Similarly, other than having a direct health impact, emergencies concerning public health continue to affect individuals and communities through many challenges. The population continues to be subjected to stigma, isolation, job security, and inadequate resources for medical response. The effect has since generated emotional reactions, especially among those who contract the disease or those at higher risks, as they exhibit fear, distress, anxiety, and stress (Usher et al., 2020). The situation has even been worse for those who have mental health issues since the impacts have been more significant to those prone to psychological problems.

The COVID-19 impacts and the public health measures put in place exceed physiological health to incorporate mental health in reference to what people can do and what they cannot do. It is because of the complexities that the assessment of the personal consequence in relation to mental health is a challenge and subjected to the capability approach as a conceptual framework (Talevi et al., 2020). Though the capability approach was first introduced in the early 1980s by Amartya Sen, it was recently proposed for use in understanding challenges of policy that can be interpreted in the context of mental health. This involves examining the actual capabilities of a person, such as their mental health and their enablers. The findings show that COVID-19 has both a profound psychological impact and interference with the freedoms of the people to engage in behaviors that are considered consistent with the values that support health (Cullen et al., 2020). These include participating in recreational activities, visiting others such as loved ones, and spending time outside. The limitation to these behaviors has been occasioned by the Lockdown put in place to contain the spread of COVID-19 disease.

As countries worldwide quickly adopted the measures to Lockdown to restrict social contacts of the people, interesting outcomes were recorded. Studies establish an increase in mental health-related issues such as severe anxiety and depression (Talevi et al., 2020). Though Lockdown and other containment measures have gradually been lifted in most countries, including the U.S, over time, researchers have associated the impact of these measures to mental health issues among the people. It is because of the lockdowns that people could no longer go outdoors to meet others, including spending time with the loved ones; they could not get to recreational areas for recreational activities (Gavin et al., 2020). Many people found themselves to have lost their jobs or their income reduced despite having many bills to attend to related to families and others. From the capability approach, they lacked the actual capabilities such as their mental health and their enablers to continue adjusting to the situation (Torales et al., 2020). The situation was even more adverse to those who exhibited mental health issues prior to the COVID-19 and the subsequent containment measures such as Lockdown that was experienced in many countries.

The Research Study Aim

Many investigations have been conducted in relation to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. WHO identified some specific groups of people such as older adults, healthcare providers, and those with underlying health conditions are at risk. There are others, such as the employees who lost their jobs, students who missed their classes, and players who could not play, and many others (Usher et al., 2020). All these groups were subjected to mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, and depressions, among others. Multiple studies have examined the relationship between the COVID-19 pandemic and mental health (Gillard et al., 2021). However, despite multiple studies that have examined the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of the people, there is a significant gap on how those already with mental health issues were or continue to be affected during lockdowns as countries move to curb the spread of the disease. It is based on this information and the existence of the gap in the research that the current study aims at investigating the experiences of people with mental health issues during the COVID-19 Lockdown. Unlike the previous studies that have focused on the mental health issues caused by COVID-19, including its control measures, this study focuses on the way the mentally ill were affected when Lockdown was put in place to limit the spread of the disease.

The Significance of the Aim

The proposed research is significant in many ways, especially to the stakeholders in the health sector and the leadership at the international, national, and local levels to bring COVID-19 to an end. The study’s findings are essential to the Department of Health and Human Services to understand the situation of the mentally ill people in the country and design appropriate ways to address their conditions (Gillard et al., 2021). The vital information may include the data of the significant mental health cases that people exhibit and the best approach to mitigate the effects. The authorities, especially national leadership, will increase their knowledge on the impact that some containment measures such as Lockdown have on the people. This will help develop alternate measures that will control the spread of COVID-19 without necessarily subjecting people to mental suffering. Many health providers also find the information of the study critical in understanding the extent of the impact on mental health and design the best ways to address the issues. The mentally health-challenged people will find the information relevant in understanding the situation around COVID-19 control measures such as Lockdown and how best to evade the adverse situation. Finally, it is crucial for the people around the victims of COVID-19 and especially those living with mental health issues to know how to best care for them.

Objectives of the Study

  • To determine the experiences of people with Mental Health issues during the COVID-19 Lockdown
  • To find out how failure to achieve social satisfaction impacted people with Mental Health issues during the COVID-19 Lockdown
  • To establish how the limitation to medication impacted people with Mental Health issues during the COVID-19 Lockdown

Methodology

Research design

The proposal will employ the cross-sectional study design that falls under the observational design. The study design involves an investigator measuring the outcomes and how the participants are exposed to a particular aspect simultaneously. This means that through this design, the researcher will examine data from a selected population at a specific point in time. The cross-sectional study design is the most appropriate, considering that the study will involve a group of participants, including those who exhibit mental illness such as stress, depression, and even anxiety (Gillard et al., 2021). The study method will remain qualitative, with the focus on the experiences that people have had during the COVID-19 lockdowns and their perceptions.

Sample and Sampling

The sample of the participants for the study will include those people who will respond to the survey or the questionnaire of the study. These consist of the people from the U.S who have been subjected to Lockdown in their cities over the past year. The inclusion of this sample involves a person who has exhibited mental health issues, whether the issue still exists or has gone away but existed during the COVID-19 pandemic and not before. Consideration will be given to people who become mentally ill because of the effects of COVID-19, but such a person must show how the continuing COVID-19 affected them or is affecting them.

Therefore, to get the right sample for the study, convenience sampling will be employed. This sampling method is the most preferred because it allows the sample to be taken from a population that is easy to contact and reach. Considering that COVID-19 is a global pandemic and, therefore, a wide range of people have been affected. Similarly, the cases of mental health issues have increased to an excess of over 250 million during the people. Therefore, with convenience sampling, only the population that is easy to reach is what will turn the focus of the study. This will also consider the availability of the participants and whether they can conveniently be located. This sampling and inclusion and exclusion criteria will result in a sample of 140 participants.

Data Collection

The study will involve the collection of both primary and secondary data. For the secondary data, reports from the Department of Health and Human Services on mental health will be examined to establish how the health sector has been dealing with the problem of mental health as it has emerged as a significant issue. Similarly, secondary data will be sought from the WHO reports since the organization has been vocal on the impact that the pandemic has had on mental health globally and the need to mitigate. However, despite secondary data, the study will significantly rely on the primary data that will be collected from the participants.

The collection of primary data will entail the use of the survey or questionnaire that will be specifically designed for the current study. The questionnaire will consist of the information belonging to the participants. The initial form will have information requesting the consent of the participants prior to taking part in the study. The next part will provide the socio-demographic information related to the age, gender, education, and professions of the participants. The subsequent sections of the questionnaire will assess the perceptions and experiences of people relating to mental health during the COVID-19 Lockdown. The final parts of the questionnaire will provide self-reports with standardized and validated outcomes focusing on various situations relating to COVID-19 and its impact on people with mental health issues. The questionnaire will be a structural tool based on both open and closed-ended questions. The questionnaire will be measured using a 5-Likert scale ranging from 1-strongly disagree to 5-strongly agree. The intention to conduct the survey will be made through an advert of various channels such as social media, including Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp. The distribution of the questionnaire will be conducted online by sending them to participants by email and other platforms, including social media.

Data Analysis

Data will be analyzed qualitatively with the intent to extract significant experiences and perceptions of the people in relation to their mental health status. The research will seek the integration of experiential knowledge into the process of interpretation. The survey will assist in the extraction of anonymous data, checking for logical inconsistencies, and present the characteristics of the sample in comparison to the general population. Themes will be identified on the major aspects around mental health in relation to the Lockdown around the country while stressing the common experiences that these people have had over the period with the help of the general principles of thematic analysis. The analysis will look for the perceptions of what participants hold regarding their mental health and how adversely COVID-19 has affected them. By going through the responses, the research will create thematic ideas and propose them onto a coding matrix. The results of the study will be presented by means of an iterative process of analytical writing with the help of exemplary quotes and refining of themes before rewriting.

Ethical Issues

The ethics of the study will be given significant consideration since it involves human participants. This will involve seeking approval from the institution’s health department. Before the study is conducted, consent will also be sought from the participants. The data to be collected will only be used for this study and kept confidential.

Conclusion

The current study focuses on investigating the experiences of people with mental health issues during the COVID-19 Lockdown. The study acknowledges the existence of COVID-19, which was declared by WHO as a global pandemic. Since the outbreak, COVID-19 has been a threat to many groups of people as it strains on the health facilities, causes health complications to an infected person, and in extreme case cause death. As a result, many countries locked down to control the spread. It is true these lockdown measures that people become limited in their ways of lives. This has far-reaching effects on their mental health and especially those already experiencing mental issues. It is this situation that informs the basis of the study. The study will be qualitatively conducted and analyzed with the extraction of significant themes.

References

Cullen, W., Gulati, G., & Kelly, B. D. (2020). Mental health in the Covid-19 pandemic. QJM: An International Journal of Medicine, 113(5), 311-312.

Gavin, B., Lyne, J., & McNicholas, F. (2020). Mental health and the COVID-19 pandemic. Irish journal of psychological medicine, 37(3), 156-158.

Gillard, S., Dare, C., Hardy, J., Nyikavaranda, P., Olive, R. R., Shah, P.,… & Lloyd-Evans, B. (2021). Experiences of living with mental health problems during the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.K.: a coproduced, participatory qualitative interview study. Social psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology, 1-11.

Hamza Shuja, K., Aqeel, M., Jaffar, A., & Ahmed, A. (2020). COVID-19 pandemic and impending global mental health implications. Psychiatria Danubina, 32(1), 32-35.

Pfefferbaum, B., & North, C. S. (2020). Mental health and the Covid-19 pandemic. New England Journal of Medicine, 383(6), 510-512.

Talevi, D., Socci, V., Carai, M., Carnaghi, G., Faleri, S., Trebbi, E.,… & Pacitti, F. (2020). Mental health outcomes of the CoViD-19 pandemic. Rivista di psichiatria, 55(3), 137-144.

Torales, J., O’Higgins, M., Castaldelli-Maia, J. M., & Ventriglio, A. (2020). The outbreak of COVID-19 coronavirus and its impact on global mental health. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 66(4), 317-320.

Usher, K., Durkin, J., & Bhullar, N. (2020). The COVID‐19 pandemic and mental health impacts. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 29(3), 315.