Trógolo, M. A., Moretti, L. S., Medrano, L. A.
BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 disease has changed people’s work and income. While recent evidence has documented the adverse impact of these changes on mental health outcomes, most research is focused on frontline healthcare workers and the reported association between income loss and mental health comes from high-income countries. In this study we examine the impact of changes in working conditions and income loss related to the COVID-19 lockdown on workers’ mental health in Argentina. We also explore the role of psychological detachment from work and work-family interaction in mental health. METHODS: A total of 1049 participants aged between 18 and 65 who were working before the national lockdown in March 2020 were recruited using a national random telephone survey. Work conditions included: working at the usual workplace during the pandemic, working from home with flexible or fixed schedules, and being unemployed or unable to work due to the pandemic. Measures of financial hardship included income loss and self-reported financial problems related to the outbreak. Work-family interface included measures of work-family conflict (WFC) and family-work conflict (FWC). Mental health outcomes included burnout, life satisfaction, anxiety and depressive symptoms. Data were collected in October 2020. RESULTS: Home-based telework under fixed schedules and unemployment impact negatively on mental health. Income loss and particularly self-reported financial problems were also associated with deterioration of mental health. More than half of the participants reported financial problems, and those who became unemployed during the pandemic experienced more often financial problems. Finally, psychological detachment from work positively influenced mental health; WFC and FWC were found to negatively impact on mental health. CONCLUSIONS: Countries’ policies should focus on supporting workers facing economic hardships and unemployment to ameliorate the COVID-19′ negative impact on mental health. Organisations can protect employees’ mental health by actively encouraging psychological detachment from work and by help managing work-family interface. Longitudinal studies are needed to more thoroughly assess the long-term impact of the COVID-19-related changes in work and economic turndown on mental health issues.