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How is Covid-19 impacting our mental health?

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The coronavirus has triggered a global health crisis. Stress, uncertainty, and anxiety have put a strain on everyday life worldwide since the arrival of the pandemic. What effects does Covid-19 have on the psychological health of Swiss people? Overview of the fascinating survey results of the pan-European AXA study in October 2020.

Mental health is an issue that we at AXA would like to talk more about in future. The corona pandemic has had a major impact on the mental state of people worldwide. This fact prompted AXA to commission a pan-European study on the subject of "Mental health and Covid-19". Swiss people were also surveyed in the study.  

Young people in Switzerland in particular struggled with Covid-19. Despite this, compared with the populations of the other countries participating in the study, we in this country have so far coped well with the coronavirus crisis and the consequences of lockdown. The situation at the workplace is still difficult, however, due to Covid-19: The study showed that Swiss people experienced much more stress at work in June 2020, when the survey was conducted. Young people in particular were hit hard by corona-related job losses.

The AXA Group pan-European study

In June  2020, Swiss people (spread across all Swiss cantons) and Europeans in six countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom) were interviewed. This study report focuses on the answers relating specifically to Switzerland and then correlates these with the pan-European results.

 

An additional challenge: A third of the Swiss people interviewed stated that they had already experienced mental health problems at least once before the arrival of Covid-19. Women are particularly hard hit. Some sufferers don't know where to obtain professional support to help them cope with mental stresses. The need to raise awareness of this issue brings opportunities: Our attitude to mental health is changing. Younger people, in particular, prioritize mental health more than they did before coronavirus. Also, people are now more understanding of the need to seek professional help for psychological problems. A viewpoint that inspires confidence.

"In Switzerland, one person in five suffers from a mental illness at least once in their life. However, psychological problems such as burnout, depression, and anxiety are still taboo subjects in our society, even though potential solutions and successful therapies are available. We want to work with our partners to ensure that mental illness is no longer taboo, and that those affected and their families receive the support they need in good time."

Thomas Gerber, Head of Life at AXA Switzerland

The mental health of the Swiss population

The Swiss have coped relatively well during the pandemic compared to the other European countries that took part in the study. Possible reasons: Switzerland avoided the hard lockdown that prevailed in Spain, Italy, and France for example. Even without mandatory complete isolation and quarantine, case numbers have remained low compared to neighboring countries. The relatively high level of confidence in politics, the healthcare system, and security authorities was viewed positively by the Swiss.

A striking finding: During the first corona wave, those who were particularly at risk, i.e. aged 65 and older (excluding pre-existing illnesses), coped well with the situation. Younger people, on the other hand, were more likely to complain about problems. This may be due to measures such as homeschooling, which forced them to face new challenges. Other concerns included the loss of their jobs and short-time working. In Switzerland, younger people were more severely affected by the pandemic. The health crisis became an economic crisis, and their general psychological health deteriorated.

Mental stresses have increased significantly in recent months as a result of Covid-19. But even before the corona pandemic, 30 % of participants had already received treatment for mental health issues on at least one occasion. The number of people in a poor mental state has more than doubled, from 6 % (before corona) to a current 15 %. Overall, 44 % of respondents do not think that they can afford appropriate mental health treatment.

A more confident view of the future

Nevertheless, Covid-19 has had one positive side effect: Thanks to the coronavirus, mental health problems have been thrust into the limelight. However, the continuing stigmatization of these illnesses places an additional strain on the sufferers and their families. It makes them less inclined to talk about psychological problems, which makes prevention difficult. This is where we have a role to play.

The study also revealed certain weaknesses that AXA will be addressing proactively. For example, AXA is starting to develop effective and readily accessible offers on education and prevention. In this connection, AXA has entered into a partnership with Pro Mente Sana. This foundation has been active in mental health in Switzerland since 1978. Because, even independently of Covid-19: Mental health is a subject that we will need to talk more openly about in future.

This is how people in other countries feel

Are you interested in other effects of Covid-19 on mental health and would you like to know more about the results of the AXA Group's pan-European study?

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