Can mental illness do more harm than COVID-19 itself in young people?

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Liesser cabreja is a Fifth year medical student at the Pedro Henriquez Ureña University (UNPHU). She is affiliated with 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.


The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a series of radical changes in the generation of the future, affecting one of the most essential areas of the human being: mental health.

The fact that the world has changed forever and so suddenly has made young people face new challenges that they were not prepared to take on. living daily in environments of stress, lack of motivation and seeing the way in which they feel self-conscious about being able to carry out their usual activities and bound by the protocols established by each nation to avoid the spread of the virus, has had as a consequence, a mental breakdown in young people and therefore to rejoin their daily activities has been difficult for them.

A survey carried out by UNICEF for Latin America and the Caribbean reports that 46% of young people say they have less motivation to carry out activities that they normally enjoy. Their perception of the future has also been negatively affected, especially for young women who have and face special difficulties. 1

The most common conditions that have been seen during the pandemic are depression, anxiety and stress, many young people who already have a pre-existing mental disorder refer to the fact their crises have been triggered is because they could not have direct access to their psychiatrist or psychologist because they were not available all the time and many of these symptoms cannot be detected by their closest relatives and generally those who become aware of their symptoms are their teachers in schools, being schools direct access entities to treat mental health in adolescents and young people, some have relapsed into substance use such as alcohol or drugs to release all the tension they cannot deal with on a daily basis.

As a medical student, when doing my hospital rotations in the psychiatry area during this year, I was able to see a large number of young people who came to consultation worried about life in isolation, sedentary life, lack of financial resources in their homes, hopelessness about the things of the future, difficulties to have a social life that is not through the screen, recurring questions as if we will ever be completely confident of not getting infected, something very unfortunate is the fact that in many countries of Latin America, a health insurance system that covers the mental health area has not yet been implemented, which limits most young people from having access to a specialist to treat a mental condition, I urge each government of Latin America and the Caribbean establish a health system that can cover mental disorders thus providing a better quality of life for the generation of the future , give them hope and a new life.

References

1. UNICEF.´´ The impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of adolescents and young people´´. Last modified 2020.

About the author

Liesser cabreja is a Fifth year medical student at the Pedro Henriquez Ureña University (UNPHU), she is part of the Dominican organization of medical students (ODEM) promoting humanitarian ideals among medical students, She works with organizations in her country to provide essential health care, strengthening the health system in poor countries, she is currently doing her internship in the area of psychiatry and she has seen the way mental problems have strongly attacked people, so it is important for her to have a voice and communicate on mental issues, to create awareness in people.

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