Poles’ mental health (with a high school diploma) and the dynamics of the pandemic

Although our service has broadened its scope of topics in recent months, it was intended as a compendium of knowledge about marketing in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. That is why we are all the more pleased (if such categories can be used at all in this matter…) with the new report published at the turn of the year by SW Research.

This is an extremely interesting study due to its scale and timing: the researchers interviewed over 10,000 respondents in 10, 1000-person waves:

  • six of them took place during the spring lockdown and right after it (research from April to July 2020),
  • four of them during the “second wave” (November-December 2020).

The study was conducted using the CAWI method. The samples were not representative for the entire adult population – only people with a secondary education+ were surveyed (according to TGI they currently constitute 61% of the adult population of Poland). However, the criteria of representativeness were maintained with regard to gender, age and place of residence – the results can therefore be interpreted as the impact of the dynamics of the pandemic on the mental condition of Poles who have at least passed their final high school examinations.

The scope of the questionnaire was divided into 4 areas: emotional (“What emotions does the pandemic evoke in you?”), somatic (“Have you observed a deterioration in your physical condition as a result of the pandemic?”), behavioral (“What has changed in your behavior as a result of the pandemic?”), and social (“How has the pandemic affected your relationships with others?”).

  1. In the emotional area, the impact of the pandemic is the greatest. Between 20 and 30% of the (educated) population declare a negative impact of the pandemic situation on their mood: 28% feel “worried”, 26% “powerless”, 25% are “tense” and 22% “cranky”. It is interesting to note the small dynamics of these indicators – there is little difference between the measurements in Waves I and II of the pandemic. Indicators that have increased in the second wave relative to the first are sadness (December 2020: 27%) and feeling lonely (26%).
  2. Have you experienced any problems with sleeping? More than ¼ of educated Poles (27%) declared this somatic symptom as a result of the pandemic. 26% are tired. Almost 1/5 (18%) experience problems with their appetite – decreased or increased appetite. 14% declared headaches, 11% dizziness, and 8% nausea. In contrast to emotional reactions, somatic reactions increased during the second wave of the pandemic: 29% of respondents in December 2020 reported sleep problems, 20% appetite problems, and 10% nausea. This is probably the effect of prolonged pandemic stress, manifested by somatic complaints.
  3. It’s becoming more and more difficult to function on a daily basis – the survey indicates that 23% of the respondents are “easily thrown off balance” and 21% have had “outbursts of anger”. 19% have trouble relaxing, 18% have trouble concentrating. 15% cope with the situation by drinking alcohol, and 10% take sedatives. As many as 13% report problems performing daily tasks! These symptoms also increased in intensity in December 2020, with the exception of… the declaration of alcohol consumption, which decreased in December in relation to studies from the beginning of the pandemic.
  4. For 17% of educated Poles, meeting other people evokes a sense of threat – and this indicator has intensified in the second wave of the pandemic. 14% avoid contact (even virtual), and 13% outright say that “other people evoke fear in me.”

On the one hand, these figures seem quite optimistic – those 10% of people with nausea means 90% of those for whom the pandemic did not cause any gastrointestinal distress. 72% also don’t feel worried about the pandemic, and 75% are not tense. 73% sleep well. 87% have no problem with daily chores….

Well. But as many as 13% of (educated) Poles report such problems. These are hundreds of thousands of people for whom washing up, cleaning, walking the dog or taking care of children is now a problem. These are hundreds of thousands of people who are, after all, citizens, viewers and consumers. How will this prolonged stress affect our decisions – both consumer and (ultimately) political? We know that (click) this type of stress has a diminishing effect on consumer loyalty and a greater willingness to try out new brands and products. But can we as marketers relieve suffering consumers in any way? Are we thinking in these categories? The producers of alcohol and antidepressants are certainly nodding their heads, but perhaps other industries could also consider whether stimulating demand might in some way address the ills of Poles:

  • Maybe we have products and services to help you relax (the entertainment, candy, gaming, sporting goods, bookstore industries)?
  • Can we teach sleep hygiene or support it (furniture and home furnishings stores and consumer electronics manufacturers and retailers)?
  • Sublimate anger and aggression in some way (gaming, sports)?
  • Support the performance of everyday duties (drugstores)?
  • Stimulate social interaction (at least virtually)?

We are all tired of the pandemic by now. Unfortunately, after the first months of intensified covid-marketing, the whole world would already like to forget the strictures – and communication reminds us of a world without masks and social distancing. But escaping reality rarely ends well (recall Apart), and good marketing should always respond to people’s needs.

So let’s respond.

Download the entire report (along with a potential subscription for the results of future waves) here: