13 June 2020
Illustration: Sébastien Thibault
If we all lived through the pandemic, no one has really lived in the same way, ” says Dr. Christine Grou.
This text is part of the special issue to climate Action
Any crisis, individual or collective, is inherently anxiety-provoking. This is especially true when it is on a scale and of a severity unprecedented, as is the case with the pandemic COVID-19. In terms of mental health, what traces are we going to keep all these disturbances ? And what forces can we take to defuse the crisis that is staring us in the nose, that of the climate emergency ? The president of the Quebec Order of psychologists, Dr Christine Grou, is projected in our near future and sharing his insights.
What psychological problems are we going to personally keep this pandemic ?
If we all lived through the pandemic, no one has really lived the same way. In fact, there are three factors that will influence the legacy that everyone will. The first is our personality. Are we a person self-confident or anxious ? We have confidence in our means ? We are a person centred solutions or tendons-we consider the worst ?
The second factor is the context in which everyone will have gone through the pandemic. Some people have lived more harshly because they have lost a loved one or because they have faced food insecurity following a layoff, for example. Parents have had their children full-time, trying to combine telework and home school. Some have been confined in a large house with a garden, others several in a three-and-a-half years.
The third aspect to consider is the social fabric, which is a safety factor for mental health. The social fabric, it is know that, if one is ill or if you need help, someone will be there for us. It is to be able to count on the loved ones and the people around. Therefore, during the containment, we have been surrounded or isolated ? We the people express themselves ?
You see, the consequences of the pandemic will be very different from one person to the other.
And on the collective level, that will-t-it we stay this spring 2020 ?
What will remain is the realization that a disaster can happen, even here in Quebec, where one feels usually privileged and protected. It will increase anxiety among the population, and some people will have symptoms of post-traumatic shock. I am thinking here of health professionals facing the end of life difficult for the sick of the COVID. We can also expect that the mental health needs are greatest in the course of the next few years.
However, this feeling of having a cloud lingering above the head will not necessarily indelible. Let us remember the ice storm that hit Quebec in 1998. In the two years that followed, people were very cautious and kept gallons of water in their basement with batteries, radios, etc, This insecurity eventually fade away.
In the longer term however,do you think that the pandemic could have positive effects on our mental health ?
Yes ! The famous psychoanalyst Carl Jung has said that the crisis compels us to take paths that we would never have visited otherwise. And it is true. With the pandemic, people have discovered their individual ability to cope with a crisis. They will be reassured to see that they have a capacity of adaptation that they had not, and they will have developed a resilience, a confidence in their means. It will be a plus !
The other positive point is that the containment has forced people to withdraw into themselves, which gave a space for introspection and reflection on the meaningful connections that we maintain and their importance in our lives. In addition, many people have discovered a different way of living as a family, or started to do sports to maintain their physical and mental health.
Why the pandemic has she caused a social mobilization much stronger than the climate threat, which one hears talk about for years ?
With the virus, people have had an impression based of imminent danger. That their health and potentially their survival, as well as those of their loved ones were threatened. Not in 25 years, now ! The threat was concrete, tangible, and immediate,which is not necessarily lecas with climate change. While the climate threat is permanent, but not imminent, the pandemic is an imminent threat, but not permanent. What are the different contexts that result in different effects.
On the other hand, there has been a mobilization of decision-makers, who have shared messages daily, unequivocally, on the importance of the action to be taken. This mobilization the State has shown the seriousness of the thing. Everyone had to behave in the same way to protect the capacity of our health system to treat people. Everyone agreed to it.
The researchers are interested more and more in the écoanxiété and the effects of the climate threat on mental health. On the psychological level, what “skills” can we grow to face more confidently the climate challenge ?
Growing resilience, which has two ingredients : first, it is the feeling of being able to do something about a situation and the second is tolerance to uncertainty. It is necessary to develop our ability to tolerate the possibility that a disaster could happen.