Mon | Sep 27, 2021

Frustration soared 86% during COVID, study finds

But few Jamaicans sought counselling to cope

Published:Wednesday | August 4, 2021 | 12:12 AM

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased frustration among the Jamaican population, pushing many to resort to negative and unhealthy coping strategies, a recent survey by researchers from Northern Caribbean University (NCU) has found.

In a call to action, researchers have lobbied for policymakers to assess the findings to determine the scope and scale of intervention needed.

The survey, which was conducted June 5-19 across 14 parishes, found that about 86 per cent of 500 respondents experienced varying levels of frustration, while nearly 14 per cent said they did not.

With a margin of error of three per cent, the survey also identified factors related to the pandemic that sparked the rise in frustration (disappointment or dissatisfaction).

Significant triggers include people in the 26-33 age group, financial difficulties, dropping out of school, and limited social gatherings. The NCU research team noted that respondents in the 26-33 age group were more likely to become frustrated than those aged 18 to 25 years.

Respondents said that their coping strategies included increased social-media usage, family bonding and friendship, sourcing other employment, attending religious services, smoking, and consuming alcohol. Sixty-two per cent of persons surveyed indicated that their coping strategies were somewhat effective.

However, in analysing the findings, the NCU researchers point to some disturbing patterns.

One was that only 7.4 per cent of respondents selected counselling as a coping strategy. The researchers explained that people typically avoid seeking help from a therapist because it signifies weakness.

Other negative coping strategies include smoking and consumption of alcohol.

“The increased use of social media can aid in distracting persons from their frustration. However, it also has many negative consequences,” the report said.

While nearly three-quarters of respondents cited social media usage as a way of coping with frustration, researchers note that “there is a strong link between heavy social media and an increased risk for depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-harm, and even suicidal thoughts”.

The report, titled An Examination of the Frustration Levels among Jamaicans Before and During the Coronavirus Disease 19 Pandemic, was conducted by an interdepartmental team of students led by Paul Bourne, acting director of institutional research at the Mandeville-based NCU.