Study: Service workers, kids see mental health decline in pandemic

New research from Duke University published in the Journal Pediatrics found people working in the service industry are seeing their mental health deteriorate quickly during the pandemic and it’s affecting their children.

Researchers studied 645 people working in retail, food and hotel industries. The majority were Black and Latino, and women made up 80 percent of the respondents.

They were asked about the impact of facing multiple hardships including losing their jobs and income, childcare burdens and illness.

Many reported being in “negative moods”, losing sleep and their children were becoming uncooperative.

“Mental health problems can grow and become chronic and can cause serious problems for adults and children alike,” Duke University researcher Anna Gassman-Pines said. “And that’s one of the reasons why we hope that by calling attention to this piece of what’s happening during the pandemic, we can raise awareness and hopefully invest in the kinds of community mental health and other mental health infrastructure that is so desperately needed in the current moment.”

Gassman-Pines is an associate professor of public policy, psychology and neuroscience at Duke University.

She hopes lawmakers will examine the findings and take action.

“Government has a role here in terms of passing laws and implementing policies that can support family’s financial well-being during this unprecedented crisis,” Gassman-Pines said. “We know that having high levels of psychological distress can have long term effects for parents and for children. So an area of concern is making sure that we have a statewide mental health system in place to support the well-being of all north Carolinians. That’s something that our lawmakers in Raleigh could be thinking about right now. And really investing in our mental health system would help families during this immediate crisis, but will also be the kind of intervention that could support families well into the future.”

She says parents ask themselves if they’re having trouble sleeping and can check to see if your young children are acting out.

>> If you want to take a closer look at the research or find resources for you or someone you know, click here.

Due to the stress of the pandemic and concerns over racial injustice, local therapists are helping more families get access to counseling.

Harmony Health Therapeutic Services and Perry Counseling Center launched a 6 month initiative raising money for a Charlotte community mental health fund.

They’re focused on providing trauma-informed and culturally responsive care with a special emphasis on the Black community. Their goal is to raise 50 thousand dollars.

>> You can learn more about their plans here.