Mental health study finds one in three Chileans don’t want to return to face-to-face work

According to the latest Mental Health Thermometer in Chile, a study conducted by the Chilean Security Association (ACHS) and the UC Center for Longitudinal Surveys and Studies.

The outbreak of the pandemic generated a series of cultural and social changes, as well as work. The health crisis has forced many companies to set up a teleworking system, unknown to many at the time.

As the health situation began to change, many have moved to a hybrid modality, with some days in person and others working remotely. However, the end of the pandemic seems to have brought many workers back to the old face-to-face modality, which not everyone wanted.

It was revealed by him last Mental health thermometer in Chile research developed by the Chilean Security Association (ACHS) and the UC Center for Surveys and Longitudinal Studies which addresses one of the biggest concerns of Chileans: mental health.

Based on a representative sample of the national population, the document periodically assesses and reports on the mental health situation in the country, in addition to measuring its evolution over time and delving into the associated factors that generate the changes.

One in three Chileans does not want to return to face-to-face work

The results suggest changes from what Covid-19 meant for society. With regard to telecommuting, a work modality that has greatly expanded during the pandemic, and which still persists in some jobs, the UC study indicates that 83% of men feel satisfied with this way of working while in the case of women, the figure reaches 72.5%.

When asked if you’re 100% ok with going back to face-to-face (considering both men and women), the results establish some parity. One in three Chileans does not want to return to face-to-face work, 37.1% strongly disagree or disagree with this idea, 24% neither agree nor disagree, while 38.8% strongly agree.

Loneliness, one of the big problems of Chileans

David Bravo, director of the UC Center for Longitudinal Studies and Surveys was in charge of preparing the study, together with Antonia Errázuriz from the Department of Psychiatry of the UC School of Medicine, with Paulina Calfucoy (ACHS) and Daniela Campos (ACHS), work that has been carried out since 2020, and that takes into account variables such as work, social support, loneliness, mood, alcohol, anxiety and insomnia, among others.

In their last episode, 21% of respondents reported high levels of loneliness (often feels isolated/excluded by others or lacks companionship), similar to what was found in previous surveys, meaning that about one in five Chileans feels lonely.

But disaggregating the results by gender, 26.1% of women showed signs of loneliness while among men, the figure is only 15.1%, the document establishes. In other words, one in four Chilean women feels lonely.

“We found that compared to our previous measurement in November 2022, that there is a significant increase in mental health problems and depression among women, while the opposite trend (a decrease) is reported among men. This is the novelty that we have found in this measure, an increase in the gender gap in mental health problems” sums up well done.

Reference picture. The study analyzed the implications of teleworking. Credit: Patricio Fuentes / The Third

Although throughout all of our measurements, it has been consistent that women have a higher rate of loneliness than men, Bravo explains, “The gap with women peaked in this last measure.”

Another point present is perceived social support, which presents a distribution similar to that found in August 2021 and May 2022, with a proportion close to 9% of respondents with low support; a medium support of 47% and a high support section in which 44% of the population is located.

State of mind: worrying reality in Chile

The study also revealed that 17.5% of respondents suspected the presence of mental health problems. Although this proportion is still 15 to 17 points lower than that posted in July 2020 and April 2021, there is currently an increase of 1.8%, which is explained by a disparate trend : a 5.8% increase in mental health problems among women and a 2.3% decrease in problems reported by men. “While this is a significant proportion of the population, this is equivalent to half of the highest reported in our July 2020 measurement,” Bravo establishes.

In addition, 13.7% show moderate or severe symptoms of depression indicates the search. This figure is statistically similar to that recorded in November 2022, the study said. However, he adds, underlying this apparent stability are two statistically significant opposing trends: a 3.7% worsening of depressive symptoms in women, compared to a 4.4% improvement in men.

The study adds that 22.3% have moderate or severe anxiety symptoms. This represents a drop of 1.4 points compared to what was observed in November 2022. It can be seen that this drop is mainly explained by a statistically significant drop of 2.8% in the anxiety index among men .

According to the academic, the other dimension measured, referring to symptoms of generalized anxiety, shows that “women remain at a level similar to that of the previous measurement, but it falls sharply for men with the consequence of an increase in the gap between the sexes in relation to women”.

Faced with this scenario, the document adds, 35% of the sample declare having consulted a mental health professional throughout their life and having been prescribed a drug (21% of women and 5% of men) to their emotional issues. 12.8% had been in the last 12 months (19.8% of women, 12.8% and 5.4% of men).

A strong improvement in the general emotional situation is observed after the start of treatment (cases that feel very bad or quite bad drop sharply and those that are classified as good or very good improve significantly). Women present a worse basic emotional state before treatment than men: 65% of women rate themselves as very or somewhat bad compared to 48% of men.

In this way, improvement with treatment translates into a greater drop in the worst emotional state categories, whereas in men there is a much higher relative proportion feeling pretty or very good.

Regarding job satisfaction, 77.3% indicate that they often or always feel satisfied with their work. This is 11 points more than what was observed in 2020. Job satisfaction is higher among those who do not telework (77.9%) unlike those who telework (73.4% satisfaction)

before the question How different was your life last week compared to your life before Covid-19? 49% think their life is currently somewhat or completely different from what it was before Covid-19, down 25 points from April 2021.

Mental health study finds crime and economics replacing contagion as concern

Chile’s latest mental health thermometer shows employment, crime, economy and political changes move the contagion as the main concerns of Chileans.

Crime remains the greatest stressor with 67.1%, while the political-social changes that have taken place in the country compared to May 2022 lose importance by 10 percentage points. The expected economic situation for the coming months remains a stress factor for 51% of respondents.

Over the past three years, we have seen physical health deficits (such as having two or more chronic conditions) and also economic problems (such as loss of job or income or high debt) as factors associated with problems more important mental health. ), says Bravo. “The issue of medical treatment gaps due to the lag produced during the pandemic may have an impact today, and economically, employment and incomes have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels” , he adds.

There the possibility of contagion as a stressor fell from 61.8% in April 2021 to 15.7%. Also to a lesser extent in the same period, the loss of jobs, from 43.6% to 28.3%.

He adds that 9.2% show risky drinking (similar to what was found in the last measurement). What has been observed throughout the various measures is maintained: risky alcohol consumption is greater among men than among women.

While 13.8% report having moderate or severe problems with insomnia, an increase of 1.5 percentage points from November 2022. The increase is statistically significant and attributed to a 2.3% increase in women.

UC research establishes that a sedentary lifestyle decreased more strongly in men than in women (26.4% vs 35.2%) . In total, 30.9% show signs of being sedentary.

Source: Latercera

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