Covid-19: the effects of the health crisis on mental health continue

A year and a half after the start of the health crisis, the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and confinements continue to be felt on the mental health of the French, which remains degraded, according to the last bulletin of Public health France (SPF), dated September 17.

Worryingly, 23% of adults report signs of anxiety, 10 points higher than pre-Covid level, as shown the latest CoviPrev figures collected from August 31 to September 7. To measure the state of mental health of the population facing the Covid-19 crisis, SPF implemented this monitoring in March 2020. The survey interviewed online, with the polling institute BVA, at short intervals, independent samples of 2,000 people over 18 years.

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Admittedly, the level of anxiety states remains lower than that of the first confinement (27%) but 63% of French people declare sleep problems. This is 14 points more than before the Covid, and as much as during the first confinement. In addition, 10% of French people had suicidal thoughts during the year, 5 points more than before the crisis, underlines CoviPrev.

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“The improvements observed in July on the quality of the population’s sleep do not seem to have lasted beyond the summer”, notes the health agency, which is awaiting the next data (end of September-beginning of October) to see “If this increase in anxiety and sleep disorders is confirmed or if it is rather linked to the start of September”.

Uncertainty about the future

Although declining since the end of April, depressive states remain frequent in the surveyed sample (15%), at a higher level than before the epidemic (10%). The people most affected by anxiety or depressive disorders are the inactive, people with a history of psychological disorders and those in difficult financial situations.

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The signals also remain worrisome in children, adolescents and young adults. Thus, the number of emergency room visits for suicidal gestures, suicidal ideation and mood disorders has risen sharply among children and young adults since the start of 2021, compared to the three previous years. This increase is highest among 11-14 year olds, according to the health agency. “We take in twice as many children for psychiatric emergencies. Some are depressed, anxious, emaciated, sleepless, and others, more seriously, threaten their lives ”, thus indicated to the World Richard Delorme, head of the child psychiatry department at Robert-Debré hospital (AP-HP, Paris), in August.

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