Pandemic Wasn’t That Bad For Mental Health, Says Broken-Brained Study

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Have you heard? According to some very smart people who have done a study (or other studies), the COVID-19 pandemic has not affected everyone’s mental health as much as we thought!

If you’re rolling your eyes, you’re not alone.

Published earlier this month in the British Medical Journal, the meta-analysis looked at 137 studies from (and this is important) mainly wealthy European and Asian countries in an apparent attempt to quantify the many, many academic and anecdotal findings suggesting that the pandemic has absolutely ruined everyone’s mind.

What these researchers from several Canadian academic institutions found instead was evidence that perhaps suggested the pandemic and its lockdowns were not so bad for the mental health of those lucky ones.

While the reservation of domestic income should the main criteria for statements qualifying these research findings are social shares of the paper – which, we should note, contains in-journal links to two editorials, one agreeing with the findings and one critical of them – no context or qualification does not contain at all, because social media is where nuance dies.

It is not surprising that this controversial article is making waves among both the still pissed COVID denier set and immediately annoyed plethora of precautions – but it also irritates those who find themselves in between these two extremes.

If BuzzFeed News expertly outlined, there are loads of relatively normal people who took offense to the headlines and tweets about the study suggesting that mental health outcomes during the early years of the pandemic weren’t much of a problem “among general population surveys” as they initially appeared. Even though the meta-analysis authors admitted that a whopping 77 percent of the countries they looked at were high-income countries.

Indeed, the skewed headlines were so bad that Elon Musk’s Twitter posted a reader-generated note one of the more popular BBC to post the whole subject to:

As always, people wouldn’t be on Twitter if they weren’t a little fun, which is why it provided plenty of anecdotal (and hilarious) evidence about the wild shit people did during the height of the lockdown as their minds unraveled like yarn. For example: Get “separated on Zoom“creating one specified spreadsheet about Netflix’s heartbreaking adult cartoon “Bojack Horseman” and to write a letter to the infamous “Tiger King” villain Joe Exotic in prison. To be clear, there is also, uh, one abundance of data that completely refute the study (and the reporting about it).

For example, take another meta-analysis published in The Lancet right around the time the BMJ one was doing the rounds which, horrifically enough, discovered there was an upward trend of children who go to the hospital because of suicidal thoughts in 18 countries. If that’s not evidence of a mental health crisis, good luck finding one.

While it’s all well and good that people in affluent countries supposedly experienced more mental resilience during those first hellish pandemic years, they used this meta-analysis to make sweeping suggestions about something as complex (and with such long-term implications) as mental health in the midst of a global, paradigm-shifting event? Enough, by the way: Pretty maddening.

More about meta-analyses: Dicks are getting longer and scientists don’t know why

Pandemic Wasn’t That Bad For Mental Health, Says Broken-Brained Study

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