Mental health and well-being of indigenous people during the COVID-19 pandemic in Bangladesh

Elsevier, Heliyon, Volume 7, July 2021
Faruk M.O., Ching U., Chowdhury K.U.A.

Background: The ongoing pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus and the subsequent containment strategies has taken a heavy toll on the mental health of people irrespective of age, gender, race, ethnicity, and geographical location. Studies have documented the mental health status of non-indigenous Bangladeshi people, but little attention has been paid during the pandemic to the investigation of the mental health status of indigenous people living in remote hilly areas. To address this gap the present study aimed at investigating the prevalence and accompanying risk factors of depression, anxiety, stress, and compromised well-being among indigenous people during the pandemic. Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted on 422 indigenous people aged between 16 and 90 using the 21-item Bangla Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (BDASS-21) and the Bangla version of the WHO-5 Well-being Index from January 30 to April 10, 2021. Data were collected by trained research assistants from three remote hilly areas namely Bandarban, Rangamati, and Khagracchari in the Chattogram Hill Tracts (CHT). Chi-squares, logistic regression, and ANOVA were performed to examine the association of variables. Results: The prevalence of moderate to extremely severe depression, anxiety, stress, and low well-being among the indigenous population during the pandemic was found to be 49.3%, 47.2%, 36.7%, and 50.9%, respectively. Risk predictors for depression, anxiety, and stress included age, ethnicity, geographical locations, educational attainment, occupation, and marital status. Conclusions: The results suggest that the ongoing pandemic has led to the rise of common mental health problems among indigenous people during the pandemic. The results can contribute to the formation of mental health policy for indigenous people and the development of suitable mental health intervention strategies especially during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.