Food Insecurity A Major Source Of Mental Health Issues Amid Pandemic

The recent National Income Dynamics Study-Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (NIDS-CRAM) Wave 5 report has revealed the negative effect that the economic insecurity that accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the mental well-being of adults, particularly those with children.


The National Income Dynamics Study-Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (NIDS-CRAM) is a study compiled by a number of South African-based academics at different universities in the country, including the University of Cape Town, Stellenbosch University, University of Witwatersrand, and more.

The latest report, dated 8 July of 2021, was Wave 5, meaning that it was the fifth time at which a survey was conducted amongst the same group of individuals, and it was 1 of 3 waves in which questions surrounding mental health were asked.

Mental health questions were asked in Waves 2, 3 and 5, and each time nearly a third of respondents revealed feelings of a depressed mood, with approximately 21% in Wave 2 and approximately 28% in both Waves 3 and 5.

Additionally, half (53%) of the total overall respondents revealed a depressed mood in at least one of the three time periods, meaning that it was not necessarily the same people showing signs of depression each time. Distressingly, however, were the 5-7% of respondents who showed signs of a “severe depressed mood” in November/December of 2020 and April/May of 2021.

Food insecurity for parents/guardians has become a major source of worry and depression during the pandemic, with “40% of adult [respondents] with children in food insecure households [showing] signs of a depressed mood in April 2020” as compared of the 26% of adults “living with children in food secure homes” that shared feelings of a depressed mood in the same time period, according to the study.

Furthermore, the percentage of adults in a depressive state rose to 51% when taking into consideration the lack of child access to food at school. With that said, however, the report did show that adult worry decreased from 74% in 2020, to 57% in the first quarter of 2021, to 45% in April 2021.

This reveals that adult worry is subject to change depending on the conditions of the pandemic’s spread and infection, and the changes to socioeconomic conditions that the pandemic may have.

The study traces the effect of COVID-19 on citizens through different waves of surveys being conducted on the same group of individuals at different time periods. The individuals are questioned about income, employment, grants, knowledge, behaviour, and so on as it relates to the pandemic.

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