Mental health levels between Dutch men and women during Covid-19
Velde, Jorwin van der
MetadataShow full item record
Introduction Societal concern about the prevalence of anxiety and depression symptoms (ADS) has been heightened by the unexpected arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic. Early in the pandemic, research in the Netherlands has shown no significant increase in ADS levels in the general population compared to before the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus. Several questions remain. What is the picture one-and-a-half year after the pandemic began? Furthermore, gender differences in ADS before the pandemic were substantial, with women showing higher levels of ADS. However, little is known about whether gender differences have changed since the pandemic began. Methods I measured ADS with the Mental Health Inventory (MHI-5) in an adult sample from the Netherlands (n = 3.870) across three annually-spaced time points (late 2019 (T1), late 2020 (T2), and late 2021 (T3)). In line with the MHI-5, a scale was made with scores ranging from 0 (low ADS) to 100 (high ADS). A paired samples t-test investigated the change in ADS over time. A repeated measures ANOVA tested the change in ADS gender differences. Results The results indicated a small but significant decrease in ADS between T1 and T2 and between T1 and T3 (M2019 = 24.68, M2020 = 24.20, M2021 = 24.18). The existing ADS gender gap, with women generally experiencing more ADS than men (Mwomen2019 = 26.57, Mmen2019 = 22.58), did not significantly change during the pandemic (F (1, 3868) = .03, p = .857, partial η2 = <.001). Discussion ADS in the general population decreased significantly compared to late 2019. No increasing ADS gender differences were found. This study suggests that more extensive research is needed on mechanisms that may influence ADS trends, such as the impact of positive side effects during the Covid-19 pandemic.