The mental health of young people in the pandemic

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Natan Q. A. da Silva, a 5th year medical student from Brazil and Ms. Maria L. C. Meurer, a 4th year medical student of UNINGÁ, Brazuk. They are 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.


Faced with a pandemic, the mental health of younger people can be harmed, as social isolation – which is beneficial for containing COVID-19 – has the potential to result in psychological damage for children and adolescents. Most young people have a milder infection against the virus, but they are more psychologically impacted by changes in their social environment.

Quarantine was adopted as a preventive measure to prevent an increase in the number of those contaminated by Sars-CoV-2. This condition, together with uncertainties about the future, such as unemployment and online classes, cause emotional instability and anxiety in most young people. This whole situation is well exemplified by the following sentence from Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus —Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) “The indirect effects of COVID-19 on children and adolescents can be greater than the number of deaths directly caused by the virus.” In other words, we should be concerned about the direct effects of COVID-19, without underestimating the indirect effects that this disease can cause.

The pandemic imposed some psychosocial challenges for the youth, mainly exposed by the loss of freedom, lack of a routine in schools (in person) and restriction of socializing with friends. Worries, fears, anxiety, changes in sleep, appetite and mood are possible consequences of changes in the child-juvenile psychosocial sphere.

Another point that should be highlighted is suicidal ideation in young people who already suffer from some mental disorder, as social isolation, the theme of death/illness, economic crisis and changes in family dynamics can present themselves as triggering factors in the suicidal spectrum. All these points mentioned are found and aggravated by the pandemic.

Going through this situation as a young student during the pandemic period, I was able to experience this in practice, not only experiencing the feeling of anxiety, but uncertainty about the troubled period we are living in, the future job market, my own social life practically non-existent and its direct consequences on the quality of life and study. Currently, after a year of experiencing the pandemic, I see my life and my friends still trying to adapt to this new reality, witnessing a much more lonely form of youth.

Bibliography

•HOSPITAL SANTA MÔNICA. Hospital Santa Mônica. 2020. Available from: <https://hospitalsantamonica.com.br/os-efeitos-da-quarentena-na-saude-mental-de-criancas-e-adolescentes/&gt;. Access on: 24 jun. 2021.

•Available from: <https://www.cremepe.org.br/2020/11/23/ensino-hibrido-ou-100-remoto/&gt;. Access on: 24 jun. 2021.

•FIOCRUZ. FIOCRUZ. 2020. Available from: <https://portal.fiocruz.br/documento/covid-19-e-saude-da-crianca-e-do-adolescente&gt;. Access on: 24 jun. 2021.

About the authors

Natan Q. A. da Silva is a 5th year medical student from Brazil; he is a participant in the Academic Leagues of Cardiology, Orthopedics, Human Reproduction and Traumatology.

Maria L. C. Meurer is a 4th year medical student of UNINGÁ and a member of IFMSA Brazil. She is interested in human rights and medicine and her hobbies include reading and participating in extension activities from her university.

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