Can psychological interventions provide resilience to negative shocks? Evidence from a RCT and the COVID-19 pandemic

Crawford School of Public Policy | Arndt-Corden Department of Economics

Event details

ACDE Seminar

Date & time

Tuesday 04 June 2024


Acton Theatre JG Crawford Building and Online Zoom


Michelle Escobar Carias (University of Melbourne)


Firman Witoelar Kartaadipoetra

The COVID-19 pandemic and the government policies designed to contain it have created severe economic and mental health challenges in many low-income countries. In this study, we examine whether a maternal mental health intervention, delivered from pregnancy through 3 years postpartum, provided resilience amidst COVID-19 restrictions in rural Pakistan. Our findings show that women who were randomized into receiving therapy experienced 0.26 standard deviations fewer common mental disorders such as anxiety and depression. They also reported improved spousal relationships, fewer marital problems, and a lower frequency of intimate partner violence during periods of more stringent government restrictions, as compared to women who did not receive the intervention. Our results suggest that these effects may be the result of an improved ability to manage stress and worry, rather than from differing experiences of economic shocks among the treatment arm.

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