Study finds strong link between pay cuts and negative emotions during MCO

The partial lockdown imposed in March to curb the spread of Covid-19 has had a heavy impact on the economy.

PETALING JAYA: A recent study on mental health and shifts in employment and income during the movement control order (MCO) period shows that more than half the respondents who reported a reduction in income also experienced negative emotions such as worry, anxiety and stress.

The study by research group The Centre was conducted during the second phase of the MCO from April 1-14. The results were based on the response of 720 participants, a subsample of a larger group of 1,084.

According to the findings, respondents were mainly worried about their financial situations over the medium to long term, including their ability to support their dependents; pay their rent, mortgages or loans; and afford a medical emergency.

Those on unpaid leave reported experiencing the highest levels of depression while those who were retrenched reported the highest levels of anxiety and stress.

Part-time employees experienced the most change with regards to their employment status, with 27% reporting that they were unable to work, 20% reporting that they were on unpaid leave or had reduced pay and 7% saying they had been retrenched.

Students and the unemployed experienced the most negative mental well-being, with student respondents stating a lack of employment opportunities as one of their main concerns post-MCO.

“The MCO has shone a spotlight on the seriousness of mental well-being and mental health issues, and it is likely to carry well after the MCO is over as the country grapples with economic uncertainty,” The Centre said in a statement.

“The Centre hopes that the government continues to increase efforts to address mental health in the long run and with lasting impact.”

Such efforts include the consideration of a community-based approach to mental health and targeted mental health support to income-vulnerable groups, it said.

The group also called for an expansion of mental health infrastructure, literacy and support to allow for a more comprehensive approach to managing mental health in the country.

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