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Ariel University Researcher on the Mental Health Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic

A new study published by Professor Menachem Ben Ezra from the School of Social Work at Ariel University examines the mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ariel, Israel, July 29, 2020 --( A new study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders looks at some of the mental health implications of the current COVID-19 pandemic. According to Professor Menachem Ben Ezra, the principle author of the paper, “This is the first study to show the mental health benefits of adhering to the WHO guidelines (see below) regarding COVID-19.” Until the study’s publication, no other empirical study has examined associations between psychological distress, quarantine and the adherence to recommended and avoidance of non-recommended behaviors. “Understanding the relationship between the two approaches may be crucial to comprehending the psychological drivers of important behaviors at a time of global crisis, and encourage avoiding behaviors with negligible or negative impact on health outcomes,” stated Professor Ben Ezra. “In addition, it shows the potential harm of adhering to non-recommended behaviors.”

Professor Ben Ezra and his co-authors assembled an internet panel in China to recruit a national sample between March 4th-10th, 2020 using a random and stratified sampling, with oversampling of the Hubei region and the city of Wuhan. The study shows that practicing recommended behaviors was associated with lower risk for elevated psychological distress, while non-recommended behaviors were indicators of elevated risk. Moreover, while most of the participants adhered to recommended behaviors, this may also indicate a social desirability effect. The non-recommend behaviors that study participants were asked about included taking vitamins and about the consumption of traditional medicine as protection from COVID-19.

The study provides the first empirical evidence that supports the WHO MythBusters for non-recommended behaviors during the current global pandemic. “The study of the mental health implications of the Covid-19 pandemic allows us to understand the detrimental side effects of the crisis. By taking a more holistic approach of the association between the recommended and non-recommended behaviors associated with psychological distress, we are able to see the direct correlation between following the recommended behavior practices and a decrease in anxiety in our study participants,” stated Professor Ben Ezra. “As this pandemic continues, it is important to strongly emphasize the benefits of recommended behaviors while stressing the problems of associated with non-recommended behaviors.”

Professor Ben Ezra is able to speak on:

The full study and its findings.
Why the study of mental health issues surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic is essential
Looking at the numerous detrimental mental health side-effects of the pandemic including the crises and stresses associated with economics, relationships with caregivers and education.

The WHO guidelines:


The association of being in quarantine and related COVID-19 recommended and non-recommended behaviors with psychological distress in Chinese population

Menachem Ben-Ezra, PhD; Shaojing Sun, PhD, Wai Kai Hou, PhD, Robin Goodwin, PhD

School of Social Work, Ariel University, Ariel, Israel (Dr. Ben-Ezra []; Department of Communication, Fudan University, Shanghai, China (Dr. Sun); Department of Psychology, Centre for Psychosocial Health, The Education University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China (Dr. Hou); Department of Psychology, University of Warwick, Coventry, United Kingdom (Dr. Goodwin)
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Ariel University
Nicole Greenspan

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