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Mental health of hawkers during COVID-19: a marginal community in Bangladesh

Iqbal Hossain Moral, Saidur Rahaman, Shikh Imran, Mizanur Rahman

Abstract: Purpose: Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic impacts the financial condition and the mental health of millions of workers from various informal sectors. This study aims to look into the hawkers’ community’s mental health and living conditions in Bangladesh during COVID-19. Design/methodology/approach: The researchers have applied the purposive sampling technique to choose ten hawkers from Khulna city, a district in the southern region of Bangladesh. An in-depth interview was taken in the Bengali language in an unstructured manner and lasted 30–40 min per respondent. Findings: The findings showed that the Hawkers’ income reduced, and specifically, during the pandemic, they had earned half of what they usually made before. Besides, they could not open their stores because law enforcement agencies imposed restrictions on opening business centres during the lockdown except for some emergency necessities shops. This restriction led the hawkers to stop selling their products because there was a high chance of spreading the virus through the products they sold. Due to income reduction, they had to eat cheap food, which caused their health problems. Consequently, this community mentally got depressed. Practical implications: Policymakers in Bangladesh might think about enacting more effective measures to provide some extrinsic and intrinsic support in improving the mental health of the hawkers’ community. Originality/value: To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study on the mental of the hawkers’ community during COVID-19.
Keywords: Bangladesh / Mental / Community / Hawker / COVID-19 / Informal entrepreneur / Psychology

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