In Argentina, the population shows the highest level of psychological distress recorded in the last 10 years REUTERS / Agustin Marcarian
In Argentina, the population shows the highest level of psychological distress recorded in the last 10 years REUTERS / Agustin Marcarian

Product of the 4 million infected, the 83,272 dead until yesterday, and the economic and social situation in Argentina the population shows the highest level of psychological distress registered in the last 10 years.

The general increase in poverty that according to the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (Indec) in our country amounted to 42% in the second semester of 2020, with an increase of almost 7 percentage points compared to the same period of 2019 and that of indigence, which stood at 10.5 percent, compared to 8 percent in the same period of the previous year, they have a lot to do with the general psychological illness that Argentina is going through today.

In addition, the increase in Job insecurity, the general fall in income, restrictions to work, circulate and the uncertainty for what is to come, deepened the general concern of a society that a year and a half after the arrival of the coronavirus, still sees the way out.

For all this and many other reasons, last year psychological distress reached the highest value of the entire decade. 23.6% of the Argentine urban population reported feeling restless, agitated, nervous, hopeless, sad and tired, according to data from the Social Observatory of the Argentine Catholic University (UCA) that were exhibited at a Caritas Seminar.

Along with material poverty, the multiple psychological and affective consequences, caused by the enormous emotional pressure that is generated both by the disease and by the measures taken to face it. The heard phrase ‘people don’t give more’ translates into a huge need for psychological restraint. Caritas is also the ear and the heart that is accompanying these people, because the most affected are the most vulnerable ”, explains the report presented.

“In addition to 23.6% of psychological discomfort, one in four people in the last time prefers to avoid their problems or deny them and this indicator also rose to the highest values ​​in the time line in analysis (25.6%)”, holds Solange Rodríguez Espínola, Doctor in Psychology and Coordinator of the Human Capital and Wellbeing Program of the Observatory.

According to the data presented, among active people over 18 years of age, who had a setback due to the loss of jobs, only 43.7% said they had “full employment” despite having had a drop in their real income. Another 44.4% registered “precarious employment or underemployment” and 13.9% were unemployed. Even so, due to the “discouragement effect”, real unemployment was 28.5% due to the increase in the number of assets that went into inactivity due to the lack of job offers and restrictions on finding work.

As revealed by the data shown by the UCA, the poor have a higher incidence of psychological distress compared to the non-poor, although in 2020 it decreased in the poor and rose in the non-poor, so that the greater vulnerability among the middle sectors increased “anxiety-depressive symptoms”.

“The poor have greater avoidance and denial when facing problems compared to the non-poor. In 2020, poor people raised their negative coping figures compared to the previous year. Last year, psychological discomfort decreased slightly in people from the marginal low socio-labor stratum, while it increased in the rest of the categories, ”added Rodríguez Espínola.

Those who suffered the most from the rise in levels of discomfort were the heads of households in which there was severe food insecurity
Those who suffered the most from the rise in levels of discomfort were the heads of households in which there was severe food insecurity

On the other hand, the heads of households that suffered from food insecurity increased the levels of psychological distress, showing a scenario in which, the more severe the food insecurity, the greater the year-on-year increase in distress. “Those who suffered the most from the rise in levels of discomfort were the heads of households in which there was severe food insecurity”, Stressed the expert.

The UCA ODSA report shows a clear increase, not only in poverty levels, but also in indigence. Families who always had a job, but today their income does not reach them, fall into poverty. Our childhood is particularly affected by this situation: in Argentina, more than half of the boys are poor, a percentage that reaches almost 75% in Greater Buenos Aires and other areas of the country. In these places, of four boys who sit at a table, only one eats every day.

Formal employment also fell. And health measures affected, with greater force, those who had precarious jobs and workers in the informal economy. Caritas’ call highlights that Argentina is facing an unprecedented health, social and economic crisis in which entire families suffer and are literally dying without assistance.

“Caritas makes a call to assume the responsibilities that each one of us has, to face together an agenda that truly responds to urgent needs. We ask all actors in social life, political leaders, businessmen, civil organizations, and unions to work together on a common agenda that provides answers to the tragedy of the Argentines. We urgently need to start the productive apparatus of the country, so that the economy grows and more genuine jobs are created. Our men and women need it, so that hope for a better future for their children may be re-created in their families. Political and ideological disagreements aggravate the problem, because they only generate more division. We have to unite now and not waste time in sterile discussions or electoral speculation. It is not that the crisis ends up leaving us without strength or that the damage is impossible to repair ”, he adds.

And concludes: “On June 12 and 13, the Annual Caritas Collection takes place throughout the country in the context of a dramatic situation. Millions of brothers desperately need our help. That is why Caritas invites us to collaborate in a concrete way with those most in need, convinced that it is possible to achieve a society with equal opportunities, founded on justice, fraternity and the common good ”.

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