The Covid-19 situation caused a massive change of life worldwide. In Europe the situation was particularly difficult and we still suffer the consequences of this pandemic at different levels. In the HaHa project, we want to focus on the learning outcomes of each citizen from this difficult time and on the collective learning of this adverse experience.
THE TOLL ON MENTAL HEALTH
The social distancing measures, among all other mitigating policies commonly implemented across participating countries, resulted in mental health struggles in the general population.
MOST AFFECTED POPULATION DURING THE LOCKDOWN ACROSS COUNTRIES
Women in particular were particularly affected during the pandemic for two reasons. On the one hand, domestic and care roles had to be renegotiated, especially with children staying at home given school closures. Besides this care work burden, cases of domestic violence also increased during lockdown periods (e.g. a 182.2% increase in Italy, May 2020).
Migrant workers, especially those without a work permit, are often seasonal and contractual workers, with a precarious employment situation. This precarity increases with the uncertainty of unemployment as well as the lack of decent social protection guarantees – especially healthcare and insurances for unemployment. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), sought to highlight the immense role that migrants play in providing essential services to society, especially during periods of lockdown, as they account for 14% of key workers across Europe.
Asylum seekers were also exposed to greater precarity as the closure of administrative institutions led to delays in their procedure. Other key groups identified by partner organisations to have been exposed in more difficult situations include the elderly, prisoners, students, health and essential workers and homeless populations.
A combination of both remote working and insufficient decent living spaces blurred the boundaries between work and life. Generally, people struggled to maintain social ties and constant contact with their social circles due to mobility restrictions. It has also led to the rupturing of several relationships such as for couples or family members, as a result of tension from a sudden shift to being stuck with each other during the lockdown. However, the same situation has brought some people even closer to each other.
The pandemic has also been an obstacle to major life plans, preventing people from grasping important opportunities in personal, professional and academic life.
OPPORTUNITIES AND COPING HABITS
Respondents shared that the time they spent stuck indoors allowed them to accomplish things they otherwise would not have the time or energy for. This included rekindling and strengthening relationships, self-reflection and discovery, creating new networks, and learning new skills or improving old ones. It has also brought shifts in their attitudes and/or in their personal perspectives.
Most of them developed new habits such as:
Practice yoga, meditation
Going for a walk
All these newly-developed activities were mostly reported to have been integrated into everyday life post-lockdown, thus entailing long-term effects and benefits. Specific skills have also been heavily-relied on to go through this tough period and the most common ones include problem-solving skills, creativity, adaptability, patience, and stress management. Respondents also expressed interest in further developing these soft skills in order to be more resilient when faced with eventual difficult situations.
When asked about their future outlook, an overwhelming majority of our participants feel optimistic. The Happy Habits project aims to build on this and the collective lessons learned and experiences lived by each individual, in order to move forward more prepared for the future.To download the full report click HERE
NATIONAL REPORTS HIGHLIGHTS
Each Partner country carried out a local small scale research that included : desk and data research, the organization of a focus group (with 6 to 8 participants), led in-depth interviews (4-6 participants) and invited the general audience to respond to the survey we especially design to know a bit more about how they have experienced the pandemic and which new habits did they developed. Here are the highlights of their research and their full report also available, enjoy your reading !