What factors explain anger and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic? The case of Israeli society

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What factors affected the levels of anger and emotional distress experienced during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic? We hypothesized that (1) sociodemographic factors and resiliency factors would partially explain psychological distress and anger, with stronger resiliency associated with lower levels of distress and anger; (2) women would report more trust in national leadership, as well as more psychological problems; (3) individuals of low socioeconomic status would report less resiliency, less trust in national leadership, and greater distress than individuals of higher socioeconomic status; and (4) hope would mediate the relationships between the other resiliency factors and both anger and distress.

AIM: To explore whether community resilience, hope, and trust in leaders were associated with lower levels of anger and emotional distress during the COVID-19 pandemic.

METHODS: For this observational study, data were gathered in Israel during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, just before the Jewish New Year (mid-September 2020), as a second lockdown was announced. Data were gathered from 636 Israeli adults, who were recruited by the Midgam research panel. The participants filled out self-reported questionnaires including one on state anger, the Brief Symptom Inventory as a measure of mental-health problems (i.e., somatization, depression, and anxiety), and questionnaires about trust in the state's leaders, community resilience (CCRAM), and hope as measures of coping resources and resiliency. t-tests were used to explore differences between men and women and between those of lower and higher socioeconomic status. A hierarchical multiple regression analysis was then used to examine whether and how the sociodemographic and resiliency variables explained state anger and psychological distress. A Sobel test was used to evaluate the possible effects of hope on community resilience and trust in leadership in the context of both distress and anger.

RESULTS: Our results revealed differences between women and men in terms of anger and mental-health problems, but not in terms of coping resources. Women reported higher levels of both anger and mental-health problems. Participants of lower socioeconomic status reported more mental-health problems, more anger, and greater trust in the state's leaders; whereas those of higher socioeconomic status reported greater hope. Furthermore, hierarchical multiple regression analyses revealed that the sociodemographic factors of gender, age, and socioeconomic status, as well as community resilience, trust in the state's leaders, and hope explained mental health with a total of 19% of the variance and anger with a total of 33% of the variance. The Sobel tests showed that hope mediated the relationships between community resilience and mental health (z = 3.46, P < 0.001), community resilience and anger (z = 2.90, P < 0.01), and trust in leaders and anger (z = 3.26, P < 0.01), but did not affect the relationship between trust in leaders and mental health (z = 1.53, P > 0.05).

CONCLUSION: Personal and communal factors affect psychological distress. Personal resilience is an important factor that should be strengthened throughout life. Trust in leadership is important for citizens' mental health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)864-875
Number of pages12
Issue number10
StatePublished - 19 Oct 2021


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