Household Food Insecurity and Mental Health amid COVID-19 Pandemic: A Case of Urban Informal Sector Labor in Punjab (Pakistan)
Keywords:Urban Informal Sector Labor, COVID-19 Pandemic, Food Insecurity, Depression
In order to overcome COVID-19 pandemic in the province of Punjab, efforts in the forms of complete, partial, and smart lockdowns have resulted in increased economic-, food-,and health-insecurity. Especially among the labor class, the mental health problems like anxiety and depression are linked with decline in the level of household income and food security. The study empirically investigates the association between household food insecurity and mental health status of urban informal sector laborer amid COVID-19 in five administrative divisions of Punjab, Pakistan. By randomly selecting the five administrative divisions of Punjab (Pakistan), primary data were collected from 500 laborers (heading the households as well) engaged in urban informal sector. The data were analyzed by applying logistic regression technique. Likelihood of household head’s mental health status as depressed was high if the head belonged to a food insecure household (OR = 1.096, 95% CI: 1.05 — 1.14). In addition, results of sensitivity analysis indicate that the impact of food insecurity on depression is robust to other determinants of depression. The study suggests to expand coverage of federal and municipal nutrition support programs which in turn may help to dismiss the psychosomatic influence on vulnerable population during the COVID-19.