Housing environment influenced mental health during COVID-19 pandemic

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The last year and a half has been a struggle for all of us, and that’s to be put lightly.

But in terms of mental health, Americans living in apartments, especially those who live alone, may have suffered more mental health issues during the COVID-19 pandemic than those who live with their families in the suburbs, suggest. new research from the University of Georgia. .

Posted in the International Journal of Environmental and Public Health Research, the study found that people living in multi-family dwellings, such as apartment complexes, were more likely to have mental health problems than people living in single-family homes or condos. Renters were also more likely to suffer from mental health issues during the pandemic than these landlords.

I firmly believe that your housing environment can impact your mental health, especially during COVID. “

Andy Carswell, Professor, College of Family and Consumer Sciences

Research has shown that tenants, especially those living in high-density complexes, are more prone to mental health crises in general, but the pandemic appears to be making that effect worse.

“In most tenant environments, the resident doesn’t have as much control as they would like,” Carswell said. Loud neighbors, outdoor space, even though the resident may own pets, it all depends on the rental company rules. “When you are out of control it can damage your mental health, cause anxiety, and make you a little more depressed.”

As social opportunities dried up, people living alone found it more difficult to cope mentally than those who lived with family members.

“One side of the coin is this feeling of relief: ‘I live alone. “I am much less likely to contract the virus if I live alone,” Carswell said. “But there is also an epidemic of loneliness. Our data shows that your mental health improves as more and more people come into the picture: the more people there are in the home, the better the mental health of the people. people.”

High-density apartment complexes have caused stress

The researchers drew on data from the Household Pulse Survey, a randomized online survey from the Census Bureau that collected information on how people’s lives have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. On average, over 80,000 households per week participated, with over 1.5 million total participants during the study period.

The survey included a variety of questions, including employment status, food security, and job security. Participants were also asked how often they have felt depressed, anxious or worried during the past week.

For tenants, a variety of factors likely came into play. Narrower living quarters in high-density buildings means an increased likelihood of meeting someone in the hallway and possibly being exposed to the virus. Series of closures meant more people were staying at home 24/7, potentially increasing the likelihood of interacting with others in the building.

Using traditional equipment like apartment gymnasiums or swimming pools has become a calculated risk, if they were not shut down by management to curb the spread.

Renters also generally have moderate to low incomes, and the pandemic has likely exacerbated already existing financial anxieties. The possibility of eviction was a pervasive threat until the adoption of moratoria.

Certification in mental wellness

Regardless of a participant’s housing situation, mental health issues were pervasive in all living units.

A mental wellness certification program for rental properties exists. Based on academic research studies, the Fitwel certification system was originally created by the CDC to improve health and well-being in buildings and communities. But extensive protocols to protect the mental health of residents are still quite rare.

“The big takeaway is that, unsurprisingly, housing matters,” Carswell said. “By defining one of the issues of the many layers of issues that COVID brings, mental health has really been a hidden aspect of this whole pandemic.”

Source:

Journal reference:

Ghimire, J., et al. (2021) The Impact of American Housing Type and Residential Living Situations on Mental Health During COVID-19. International Journal of Environmental and Public Health Research. doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18168281.


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