Mental health in the context of a pandemic: social distance

mental health how

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Maria Karoline Silveira Cavalcante, a third year medicine student from the State University of Rio Grande do Norte and member of IFMSA Brazil – UERN. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

We are experiencing an atypical scenario, a pathogen, the SARS-COV-2 virus, the new highly transmissible coranavirus that affects the world, causing a widespread disease. Medical assistance is often still hegemonic, associated with a biologicist view of the disease, especially in the current context, which requires quick and effective responses to fight the virus. Amid guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO), presidential decrees and ordinances, whether state or municipal, we see an attempt to establish social isolation within the conditions of existence of each individual.

Isolation has been shown to be an efficient resource in several countries around the world in combating the virus, however we cannot fail to analyze its consequences on the psychological of people, especially in a society adorned by a historical moment conducive to so many triggers for mental illnesses. Today’s society is psychologically stagnant and with the decreed social withdrawal, problems that extend beyond the biologicist field of the new coronavirus pandemic are visible: they affect the socialization of individuals and, consequently, collaborate in cases of emotional and mental imbalance as needed to keep the distance from the closest and dearest individuals.

In a century already affected by neuronal pathologies, coexistence with depression, hyperactivity (ADHD) borderline personality disorder (TPL) or burnout syndrome (SB) is commonplace, as indicated by Byung-Chul, these problems end up intensifying, associating with the biologicist field of the new coronavirus pandemic, starting to reach the socialization of individuals and, consequently, collaborates for cases of emotional and mental imbalance according to the need to keep the distance from the closest and dearest individuals. The potential threat and risk of exposure to the pathology generate numerous emotions, feelings of fear and anxiety, activating physiological mechanisms of fight and flight, with positive feedback from the autonomous system, generating physical pathologies of considerable severity, which are added to pathologies of mental origin and have an impact on the quality of life of these people in times of pandemic.

Social distancing is necessary so that the new coronavirus does not take on greater proportions, however psychological and multiprofessional support is necessary, both for the general population and for health professionals, with a focus on promoting mental health, associated with the dissemination of information, arising from reliable sources and ignore the famous “fake news” so that there is no toxic coexistence in times of crisis. It is necessary for everyone to collaborate in this fight, a fight that crosses the medical front lines, affecting humanistic, social norms and mental health, because society can be compared to what is called by Émile Durkheim “biological body”, in which the body parts must interact with each other in order to acquire harmony and homeostasis.


ORNELL, Felipe. “Pandemic fear” and COVID-19: mental health burden and strategies. Brazilian Journal Of Psychiatry, [s.l.], 17 abr. 2020. FapUNIFESP (SciELO).

About the author

Maria Karoline Silveira Cavalcante is a third year medicine student from the State University of Rio Grande do Norte and member of IFMSA Brazil – UERN, where she is also director of Sexual & Reproductive Health and Rights including HIV&AIDS (LORA-D). She had the oportunity to be part of extension projects as an extension worker and coordinator, carrying out health education activities and improving the quality of life, in which mental health is highlighted and addressed, being considered of great importance in medical care.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Discovering Europe: Free EU rail pass for 18 year olds

Radioactive nuclear waste is a global threat. These scientists may have a new solution

These are the 4 most likely scenarios for the future of energy

UN agency chiefs issue ‘call to action’ on behalf of refugee children

7 simple steps we can all take to reduce food waste

State aid: Commission amends Short-term export-credit insurance Communication in light of economic impact of coronavirus outbreak

Quicker freezing and confiscation of criminal assets in the EU

UN updates guidelines to ensure successful return to civilian life for former combatants

80 adolescents a day will still die of AIDS by 2030, despite slowdown in epidemic

‘Well-being of two million’ in Gaza at stake as emergency fuel runs dry: UN humanitarian coordinator

Pedal power makes ‘positive impact on climate’, urges UN on World Bicycle Day

Can Eurozone’s uncertain growth answer the challenges that lie ahead?

Commission: Gifts of €6 billion and free trainees to ‘help’ poor employers

Tackle ‘tsunami of hatred’ across the world urges Guterres, to counter anti-Semitism, racism and intolerance

We need to rethink the way we heat ourselves. Here’s why

Deal agreed to protect consumers against misleading and unfair practices

Quality of air in Bucharest-Romania: is it fog or is it smog?

China is among the 20 most innovative economies for the first time

New General Assembly President brings ‘valuable insights’ into key UN challenges

What if big-tech companies became non-profits?

Syrian crisis: EU mobilises an overall pledge of €6.9 billion for 2020 and beyond

In this Tokyo cafe, the waiters are robots operated remotely by people with disabilities

As urbanisation grows, cities unveil sustainable development solutions on World Day

Workers want flexibility. After COVID, they just might get it: Poll

Eritrea sanctions lifted amid growing rapprochement with Ethiopia: Security Council

‘Grave consequences’ await if new deadly escalation of violence in Gaza continues – top UN official

An ageing workforce isn’t a burden. It’s an opportunity

EU budget 2019 approved: focus on the young, innovation and migration

FIFA and UN kick off healthy living campaign, to harness global game’s ‘huge potential’

EU’s unsparing question to UK: now what kind of future relations do you want?

Guatemala: UN anti-corruption body will continue working, as Constitutional Court blocks Government expulsion

Haiti stands ‘at the crossroads’ between peacekeeping, development – Bachelet urges strengthened ‘human rights protection’

A Brussels antithesis reveals where the EU is heading

EU, Brazil to hold high level Summit in Brasilia

Don’t understand the US-China trade war? This metaphor could help

Amazon: our green is turning to ashes

‘Mosques should be safe havens, not sites of terror’, says Guterres announcing UN plan to help safeguard religious sites

Find unity ‘to halt Libya’s senseless unraveling’, UN envoy urges Security Council

Despite violence, ‘tremendous hunger’ for peace in Afghanistan: top UN official

What does strategy have to do with a platform approach?

COP21 Breaking News: China has promised to cut emissions from its coal power plants by 60% by 2020

How civil society must adapt to survive its greatest challenges

‘Historic’ moment: Palestine takes reins of UN coalition of developing countries

This new form of currency could transform the way we see money

GDPR and the World Cup have these 4 things in common

A ‘strong and united Europe’ has never been more needed, declares UN chief Guterres

South Sudan: UN calls for end to inter-communal clashes, attacks against aid workers

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “If we do not do properly the Paris agreement, then all 16 remaining goals will be undermined”, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon cautions from Davos

The importance and the need of mobile technology in the health care system and in saving lives.

European Public Prosecutor’s Office: EU Prosecutors take their oath at the European Court of Justice

The United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union will impact young people’s future the most

European Union signs aviation agreement with the Republic of Korea

Marriage equality boosted employment of both partners in US gay and lesbian couples

India and the US: 5 ways the countries compare

Unlock the value proposition for Connected Insurance

Trade in counterfeit goods costs UK economy billions of euros

Sochi not far away from Ukraine

ECB: Monetary policy decisions

What the future holds for the EU – China relations?

US-North Korea summit ‘an important milestone’ towards denuclearization, says Guterres

More Stings?



  1. A year with a lot of bad things, wishing the whole world would get over it. Thanks for your very meaningful post.

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s