- BBC World News
Be the happiest … in times of pandemic.
For the fourth year in a row, Finland was crowned the happiest country in the world, according to a report released on Friday.
And it has its merit: 2020 was a year full of challenges, with the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed more than two million lives and has paralyzed much of the planet.
In this context, one of the greatest challenges was the mental health, as millions of people lost a loved one, lost their jobs or had to live the loneliness of confinement.
The World Happiness Report, published by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network initiative, notes that Finland has been one of the countries that has best adapted to the challenges of the coronavirus.
“The covid-19 pandemic has revealed that trust is also a crucial factor in the national response to crises,” said Frank Martela, a researcher at the University of Aalto, in Finland, who participated in the preparation of the report.
“The fact that we trust the authorities means that the Finns have followed the restrictions well, making Finland one of the countries least affected by the pandemic,” he added.
Other aspects highlighted in the report on Finland have to do with how urban areas have been organized to face the pandemic.
“There are many things about Helsinki and its surroundings that make everyday life easier and also promote health,” explains Marketta Kytta, a professor at Aalto University.
And he gives as an example that the urban density of the Thai capitals allows its inhabitants get around without using a car, while having easy access to green areas.
“In Helsinki, it is typical for children to go to school alone; the perceived safety is very high and it is quite common to go out on skis from the backyard. There are no slums: all schools are of high quality,” says the academic.
“This city has long had various social classes and a mix of rental and home ownership in the same areas. These are some of the basic components of urban happiness“, he adds.
Mental health amid dand the pandemic
In the top 10 places in this index are seven other European countries: Iceland, Denmark, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Norway.
With respect to Latin America, the best positioned country is Uruguay in 30th place, followed by Chile (38), Brazil (41) and Mexico (46).
However, the report clarifies that because the surveys were conducted virtually, some countries were not included in this edition of the survey, due to the difficulty in accessing the data.
This report, which has been carried out annually for 2 decades, considers six indicators to evaluate the happiness of nations on a scale from 0 to 10.
Per capita income, social welfare, health and life expectancy, social freedom, generosity and the absence of corruption are compared.
For researchers, this document gives an account of how the pandemic has affected the world.
“We urgently need to learn from thecovid-19“said the paper’s co-editor Jeffrey Sachs, professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University.
“The pandemic has reminded us of the global environmental threats we have and also that we must target well-being rather than mere wealth, which will be fleeting if we don’t do a much better job of addressing the challenges of sustainable development.”
But perhaps the most surprising aspect of this report is the importance of confidence as a measure of happiness.
“Confidence and the ability to count on others are the main supports for life evaluations, especially in the face of crises,” the document indicates.
“Feeling that your lost wallet would be returned if found by a police officer, a neighbor or a stranger, is estimated to be more important to happiness than income, unemployment and major health risks,” he adds.
Another issue that stands out in the document Elaborated by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network it is the effect of the pandemic on people’s mental well-being.
“There was an increase of approximately 10% in the number of people who said they were worried or sad the day before,” the document said.
In the UK, in mid-2020, an overall mental health measure was 7.7% lower than expected in the absence of the pandemic.
And the number of mental health problems releasesincreased 47%.
“The early deterioration of mental health was greater in the groups that already had more mental health problems: women, young people and the poorest people. In this way, existing inequalities in mental well-being increased”, the document can be read .
However, the document highlights that the pandemic gave relevance to the issue of mental health.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.