LMental health experts are sounding the alarms. There is urgency, they say, to take into account the growing psychological impact of the Covid 19 crisis.
On any given morning at the Edouard Herriot hospital in the city of Lyon, in southeastern France. The largest general hospital in the region, it also receives the largest number of patients with mental health problems.
Emmanuel Chicken directs psychiatric emergencies. It allows us to record one of your inquiries.
Attending is a 19-year-old student who attempted suicide by taking a drug overdose. A consumer of psychotropic drugs, he was in the process of detoxification. The last confinement brought him down: “I felt hyper desperate. And I said to myself, nothing matters anymore, it’s useless, I’ll just put an end to everything. I thought that this would get me out of the deadlock. I feel like I’m caught up in something. And with the current situation, we are literally trapped between four walls all the time, that doesn’t help! “
While those who were already fragile before the health crisis are more exposed to the stress generated by the pandemic, no one is immune, Poulet tells us: “We have patients who were not previously diagnosed with mental health problems, clearly. Given the set of parameters of instability and stress, whether they are epidemic, sociological or economic, we are entitled to think that there will be a significant increase in depressive and anxiety disorders , suicidal crises too, we are already beginning to see it. “
The patient who receives us at his home never imagined losing his mind to the point of wanting to die, during the first confinement: _ “I experienced it as a feeling of deprivation of liberty, a feeling of oppression, also a feeling of being locked up. Life had lost everything! Everything you liked was forbidden. This was extremely stressful for me. _I felt physically oppressed, with a stomachache, tightness in my throat … And then I just lost my mind and broke almost the whole house. I was admitted and diagnosed with delirium tremens. And then it turned out that he was infected with Covid-19. This means that Covid had really made my crisis worse. That is a certainty. “
Describe how your most recurring feeling “that of death. Death and then the fear of dying, the fear of dying.”
He had to spend several months in the hospital before regaining the joy of living. He was admitted to the Lyon psychiatric hospital. That’s where the health crisis of who we’ll call Benny returned.
The young man had already been treated for psychic problems. He could not bear the last confinement and asked to be hospitalized:“The first time, it did not affect me much because I was still in full psychosis and when I left the house, there was no one on the street and it calmed me down. But now that I have recovered a bit, I need the support of others, I need society to function as usual. “
A need shared by many. Author of a book and research on the psychological impact of confinement, the psychiatrist, Nicolas FranckHead of Unit at Vinatier Hospital, fears the impact of the health crisis over time, as pressure increases: “We have the first blockade that brought consequences. And then another blockage that occurs in a period in which there is a decrease in brightness with winter depression. We have the looming economic crisis, people with problems, in their business or small business. And to the effects of the confinement, we must add that of the breaking of social ties, for those who are confined alone, with fear of the effects of the virus, fear of infection, fear for health and if necessary , For surviving.”
Mental health services in France deploy new services to respond to the growing stress of the population. At the Vinatier hospital, the telephone consultation team has been available seven days a week since March.
The hospital recently opened an outpatient clinic focused on Covid 19, in the center of Lyon.
An option sometimes more accessible than the psychiatric wards of hospitals or private practices now saturated with patients.
Isolation, poverty, uncertainty about the future, fear for relatives -young and old-, post-infection traumas or grief … there are plenty of reasons for anguish.
The psychiatrist Elodie Zante It is found with more than frequent symptoms:“There are many sleep disorders, people who changed their rhythm of life, in particular, among those who left their professional activity. People who didn’t used to have them get anxiety attacks. Sometimes there will be social isolation with loss of taste or interest in the things of daily life. We also see obsessive-compulsive disorders with patients who, for example, frantically clean their homes.
And with this second wave, we see that there are people in whom the symptoms increase, and unfortunately, there are many who do not dare to go to the specialist. And unfortunately, once you have a psychiatric condition, you have to seek professional help because over time, there is little chance that it will get better on its own. “
Patient Benny highlights an attitude to keep in mind:“They shouldn’t be cornered. They should always ask for help. That’s the most important thing of all. ‘
Destigmatizing mental health, and increasing resources, is a priority – the professionals insist -, to overcome the next wave of the coronavirus crisis, which, they assure, will be psychiatric.