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Table of Contents
PERSPECTIVE/VIEWPOINT - COUNTRY/REGIONAL
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 120-121

Psychosocial Impacts of COVID-19 Pandemic: The Italian Perspective


Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Foggia, Foggia, Italy

Date of Submission18-May-2020
Date of Decision29-May-2020
Date of Acceptance02-Jun-2020
Date of Web Publication14-Aug-2020

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Antonio Ventriglio
Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Foggia, Presso Policlinico “ Riuniti” di Foggia 71121, Foggia
Italy
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/WSP.WSP_39_20

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  Abstract 


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

How to cite this URL:
Ventriglio A, Bellomo A. Psychosocial Impacts of COVID-19 Pandemic: The Italian Perspective. World Soc Psychiatry [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Oct 26];2:120-1. Available from: https://www.worldsocpsychiatry.org/text.asp?2020/2/2/120/292128



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,[1] 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,[2] as well as in people recovered from severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2, such as anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depressive symptoms.[3],[4] In addition, healthcare professionals may report stress-related symptoms as well as burnout syndromes,[5],[6],[7] with high levels of perceived stigma, especially for those working on the front-line of the emergency with affected patients.[8],[9] In fact, Kang et al.[10] in China described psychological distress including frustration, discrimination, negative emotions, as well as anxiety, depressive, and phobic symptoms, among health workers. Mowbray[11] also reported PTSD symptoms in the Chinese population ranging from 4% to 41% and depressive symptoms reaching 7%. Shigemura et al.,[9] 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.[12],[13]

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

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Torales J, O'Higgins M, Castaldelli-Maia JM, Ventriglio A. The outbreak of COVID-19 coronavirus and its impact on global mental health. Int J Soc Psychiatry 2020;66:317-32.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Brooks SK, Webster RK, Smith LE, Woodland L, Wessely S, Greenberg N, et al. The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: Rapid review of the evidence. Lancet 2020;395:912-20.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Mak IW, Chu CM, Pan PC, Yiu MG, Chan VL. Long-term psychiatric morbidities among SARS survivors.. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2009;31:318-26.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Keita MM, Taverne B, Sy Savané S, March L, Doukoure M, Sow MS, et al. Depressive symptoms among survivors of Ebola virus disease in Conakry (Guinea): Preliminary results of the PostEboGui cohort. BMC Psychiatry 2017;17:127.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Chen CS, Wu HY, Yang P, Yen CF. Psychological distress of nurses in Taiwan who worked during the outbreak of SARS. Psychiatr Serv 2005;56:76-9.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Lancee WJ, Maunder RG, Goldbloom DS, Coauthors for the Impact of SARS Study. Prevalence of psychiatric disorders among Toronto hospital workers one to two years after the SARS outbreak. Psychiatr Serv 2008;59:91-5.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Lee SM, Kang WS, Cho AR, Kim T, Park JK. Psychological impact of the 2015 MERS outbreak on hospital workers and quarantined hemodialysis patients. Compr Psychiatry 2018;87:123-7.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Park JS, Lee EH, Park NR, Choi YH. Mental health of nurses working at a government-designated hospital during a MERS-CoV outbreak: A cross-sectional study. Arch Psychiatr Nurs 2018;32:2-6.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Shigemura J, Ursano RJ, Morganstein JC, Kurosawa M, Benedek DM. Public responses to the novel 2019 coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Japan: Mental health consequences and target populations. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci 2020;74:281-2.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.
Kang L, Li Y, Hu S, Chen M, Yang C, Yang BX, et al. The mental health of medical workers in Wuhan, China dealing with the 2019 novel coronavirus. Lancet Psychiatry 2020;7:e14.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.
Mowbray H. In Beijing, coronavirus 2019-nCoV has created a siege mentality. BMJ 2020;368:m516. doi: 10.1136/bmj.m516.  Back to cited text no. 11
    
12.
Società Italiana di Psichiatria (Italian Society of Psychiatry). Recommendation for Mental Health Departments Regarding Activities and Measures of Contrast and Containment of the SARS-COV-19 Virus. Evidence Based Psich. Care, Special Supplement; 2020.  Back to cited text no. 12
    
13.
Starace F, Ferrara M. COVID-19 disease emergency operational instructions for Mental Health Departments issued by the Italian Society of Epidemiological Psychiatry. Epidemiol Psychiatr Sci 2020;29:e116.  Back to cited text no. 13
    




 

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