Professor of psychological trauma at Queen's University Belfast, Cherie Armour, says evidence from previous epidemics and disasters shows that people will continue to suffer from mental health disorders long after the pandemic has gone.
- Unfortunately, the restrictions on people's freedoms and the ability to connect and socialize with others that are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19 has really-- or can have really negative psychological impacts, and that we've seen that of COVID-19 restrictions and we've seen that it can amplify much more serious mental health problems.
In addition, when people experience stress in the outside world, then they can detach themselves from that world. But when we've been doing that for a long time, some people will find it difficult to reattach. And what comes here is then that people actually push themselves into further social isolation, and into further loneliness. And then we know that this impacts on people's mental health.
So psychologists around the world are really increasingly raising these concerns that these impacts will last longer than the pandemic itself. But this really is an exciting surprise for us because we see this time and time again in response to other epidemics, and other large scale disasters. So there is a whole body of research that talks about this. For example, related to the mental health impacts of Hurricane Katrina, and also the mental health impacts of those involved in 9/11. That the mental health impacts are still being experienced by people who experience these events.
And actually, if we think about the Chernobyl disaster, there was a study conducted that looked at mental health 20 years after the Chernobyl disaster, and they found actually that the first responders of that disaster were still experiencing symptoms of PTSD and depression. And again, unfortunately, it's those with pre-existing difficulties that will be most impacted, and that will likely have a longer lasting mental health experiences.