The Relationship Between Food Insecurity and Mental Health Among Syrians and Syrian Refugees During COVID-19. (English)
Concern has been raised regarding food insecurity (FI) and mental health (MH) among Syrians and Syrian refugees (SSR). The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is expected to have effects beyond disease that disproportionately impact SSR in a syndemic manner. Research was conducted using a mixed methodological approach to address the research question: ‘What is the relationship between FI, MH and COVID-19 among SSR?’. A hundred SSR were recruited from Syria and neighbouring countries (Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey) to participate in a Household Survey. Survey data was examined using correlation and regression analysis to establish the nature of relationships. Hierarchical moderated regressions were conducted to determine whether COVID-19 moderated the relationship between FI and MH. Interviews with Household Survey researchers underwent thematic analysis to clarify and highlight additional patterns of information. Worse FI was significantly correlated with worse MH among SSR (rs = -.24, p = .018). No moderation effects were noted with COVID-19 measures or household responses to COVID-19. Nevertheless, household responses of having smaller portions and storing of food correlated with both MH and FI. Qualitative results identified three themes: SSR Responses and Experiences of Mental Health; SSR Experiences and Responses Towards Food and Basic Necessities; and The Impact of COVID-19 and Other Social Issues on SSR. Conclusions were drawn in conjunction with current literature establishing that syndemic effects were present, with COVID-19 impacting SSR primarily via economic disruption and changes in work. This disruption caused stress and altered SSR ability to source food. Other effects were noted such as the role of fear of disease and limitations being placed on the social support available. Further research is required to establish the directionality of relationships highlighted, with an aim to support resilience patterns commonly used by FI groups.