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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 37-45

The Impact of Coronavirus Disease 2019 on People with and without Severe Mental Illness in Tamil Nadu, India

1 Health Service and Population Research Department, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, ESRC Centre for Society and Mental Health, King's College London, London, UK
2 Schizophrenia Research Foundation, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Joseph Lam
Room 1.03 David Goldberg Centre, 18 De Crespigny Park, SE5 8AF, London
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/wsp.wsp_11_21

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Background/Objectives: People living with severe mental illness may be more susceptible to infection and stress, leading to relapses or worsening of their mental health. The experiences of people with severe mental illness during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic have seldom been captured. This study set to describe the experience of people with severe mental illness in Tamil Nadu, India, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: Between July and December 2020, 158 age-, gender-, neighborhood-matched case − control pairs from the INTREPID II study completed a survey regarding their experience, worries, and behavioral changes during the pandemic. Their responses were collected by phone during six-monthly check-ins, or in-person at 24-month follow-up appointments. Only the first response for each participant is included in this report. Results: None of our participants reported knowingly having been infected with COVID-19 by the time of the survey. There is no evidence that people with psychoses were disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Unemployment and financial hardship were highly prevalent in both cases and controls. Job-related anxiety and stress were the largest source of worry, followed by worries regarding government decisions and access to mobile phones. Conclusions: The pandemic placed great strain on participants both with and without severe mental illness. The impact of unemployment and financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 requires urgent attention.

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