June 20, 2020
Photo: Getty Images
“The containment measures have an effect on the mental health and the longer they last, the more the problems increase,” said professor Frederick Philippe.
This text is part of the special issue to mental Health
Confinement, fear of sickness, financial insecurity, pandemic COVID-19 leads to lots of stress. The effect on mental health is real, but some people fare better than others. Frederick Philippe, a professor in the Department of psychology at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM), has started a study to target the factors of risk and protection to guide public health recommendations in anticipation of the second wave. His team wants to get more than 2000 participants.
“When the virus arrived, it was expected that it creates all sorts of mental health problems, as shown by several studies made in countries where SARS and Ebola had struck, says the professor. The containment measures have an effect on the mental health and the longer they last, the more the problems increase. “
However, some people fare better than others, and the team of Frederick Philip wants to understand why. Already, more than 1,000 people participated in the study, and the preliminary results give some tracks.
“To reduce anxiety, depression, and the disorder of post-traumatic stress disorder, several factors help, like sleep,” explains the researcher. And we know that people who have a good quality of sleep have a well-established routine and good lifestyle habits. “
The contact with nature is also important. “In our preliminary results, the people who are going to better have access to green spaces, says Frédérick Philippe. The national parks are therefore a resource which is good, but they have been closed for containment. “
His team is also in search of any other factor that may have an impact. For example, she is interested in forms of emotional regulation. “It seems that the rainbow is working,” says Mr Philip. The people who say that it will go well will do better, at least for the moment, but we remain very cautious because we have never experienced a similar situation. “
Frederick Philippe, who is already interested in the consequences of the floods on mental health, also reflects on the events of life past that may have an effect, negative or positive, on the current crisis.” For example, someone who is very afraid of losing a loved one in the pandemic COVID-19 might have experienced in the past, an event similar to that it would be poorly integrated, ” says Mr. Philip. Conversely, someone who has experienced a difficult event that has helped him grow is better equipped to face the current situation. “
Questionnaire and hair
To understand how people live with the numerous stresses caused by the pandemic, Frederick Philip chose to ask participants to answer an online questionnaire now, and then again in a few months, which should match the end of the first wave.
“We want to see if mental health problems have decreased in these people, or if they are still feeling the effects of the crisis,” explains the researcher. We also want to look at the profiles of the people who still have symptoms high and those who are well to infer the factors that are attributable to it. For example, we could see that someone slept well for the first phase of the study had better mental health to the second phase. “
People will also be able to send a strand of hair, which will be analyzed in the laboratory to measure the cortisol levels, a biomarker of chronic stress.
“It is a way of measuring stress objectively, which is in addition to the questionnaire, explains Frédérick Philippe. Most people experience stressful events, the higher the rate of cortisol increases. The three inches of hair near the skull represent approximately three months of stress experienced since the beginning of lapandémie. So we can see the history of the stress of the person through her hair. “
And the contestant may ask to have the results.
With this study, the team of professor Philippe wishes to be able to communicate concrete recommendations. “We are moving all groping in this moment, he says. We look at what other countries do, but they either don’t know too much. This study will give us the findings clear. “
To participate in the study, you must be 18 years or older and reside in Quebec.