|PERSPECTIVE/VIEWPOINT - COUNTRY/REGIONAL
|Year : 2020 | Volume
| Issue : 2 | Page : 120-121
Psychosocial Impacts of COVID-19 Pandemic: The Italian Perspective
Antonio Ventriglio, Antonello Bellomo
Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Foggia, Foggia, Italy
|Date of Submission||18-May-2020|
|Date of Decision||29-May-2020|
|Date of Acceptance||02-Jun-2020|
|Date of Web Publication||14-Aug-2020|
Prof. Antonio Ventriglio
Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Foggia, Presso Policlinico “ Riuniti” di Foggia 71121, Foggia
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged mental health globally. Feelings of fear, isolation, restrictions, and quarantine, all are impacting on population's well-being, above all for those vulnerable individuals with preexisting health and mental health problems. In Italy, as in the rest of the world, data on socioeconomic consequences as well as regarding the impact of COVID-19 on population lifestyle and public opinion are emerging. This commentary reports on the Italian perspective of the current emergency.
Keywords: COVID-19, Italy, mental health, pandemic
|How to cite this article:|
Ventriglio A, Bellomo A. Psychosocial Impacts of COVID-19 Pandemic: The Italian Perspective. World Soc Psychiatry 2020;2:120-1
The COVID-19 emergency has led the World Health Organization, Social Media, and Opinion Leaders and Experts in healthcare to release reports and themed scientific articles rapidly in few months.
It has been argued that this pandemic will show a significant impact on global mental health, and many surveys have been launched globally to detect psychological distress and related conditions at different levels in the general population. Further, evidence from previous pandemics suggests that mental health issues will be seen among people under isolation and restrictions, according to the Governments' Ordinance, as well as in people recovered from severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2, such as anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depressive symptoms., In addition, healthcare professionals may report stress-related symptoms as well as burnout syndromes,,, with high levels of perceived stigma, especially for those working on the front-line of the emergency with affected patients., In fact, Kang et al. in China described psychological distress including frustration, discrimination, negative emotions, as well as anxiety, depressive, and phobic symptoms, among health workers. Mowbray also reported PTSD symptoms in the Chinese population ranging from 4% to 41% and depressive symptoms reaching 7%. Shigemura et al., 2020 confirmed an increasing incidence of anxiety disorders, PTSD, somatizations, and depression in the general population in Japan.
In Italy, one of the countries heavily involved in the COVID-19 emergency, several opinion leaders and experts foresee an increase of anxiety, panic, and stress-related conditions in the general population and health workers. This is leading to a daily debate between authorities and scientific societies to equip the mental health network properly, as well as to release practical-specific guidelines.,
Nevertheless, the following points should be considered:
- Effects of restrictions and isolation, as disposed by the Government, on the general population: people are locked in their own houses for over a month, and the police are sanctioning any violation. In addition, many work/business activities have been suspended with heavy socioeconomic consequences, above all for small- and medium-sized enterprises. Social networks as well as other communication technologies have been potentiated: video calls, e-learning, video conferences and ceremonies, Skype meetings or online psychotherapies, and religious services
- Authorities (Government, Regional Committees, Universities, and Healthcare Agencies) have been delivering a plenty of decrees, norms, and guidelines to contain the infection through the population. The daily variations of such norms and restrictions have led to confusion, anger, and defiant behaviors among citizens.
- The changes in lifestyle included the daily employment of protection masks (also home-made ones), gloves, and glasses; people are leaving the houses for necessary food shopping, buying medications, and detergents, and social distancing is adopted: handshakes and hugs are avoided as well as sexual relationships or familiar relationships are somewhat inhibited by the fear to infect (especially the elders) or being infected. This may generate feelings of fear, suspiciousness, and discrimination
- There has been a huge amount of daily news delivered by television, social media, and newspapers. Most of them are coming from unofficial sources and may mislead the population with following uncorrect behaviors (fake news)
- Some moral, ethical, and religious values have been changing over the last months, leading to superstition, suggestions, bizarre behaviors, false beliefs, discriminations, and persecution, as described during some previous pandemics.
Finally, it is remarkable that the public opinion on health workers changed rapidly during the outbreak of COVID-19. Feelings of general mistrust and discredit regarding doctors, nurses, and health providers gave way to a “social beatification,” and they are currently considered as modern “heroes”….until this is over!
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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