22 Mar Let’s not call the psychosocial discomfort generated by Covid-19 mental disorder
The discomfort and psychological suffering generated by the Covid-19 pandemic is being very significant: the impoverishment of broad sections of the population, high unemployment figures, difficulties in the emancipation of young people, anxiety about the future, fear, mourning for the loss of loved ones such as the elderly who died in residences…, all of the situations that can be considered risk factors for mental health.
But the first question we should ask ourselves is what part of that discomfort comes from the Covid 19 virus, the coronavirus and what part comes from the malfunction of our model of society (equal opportunities, health, social) in the face of the crisis that has course the pandemic. What part of the discomfort comes from the fact that even though we live in a technologically advanced society with many resources, millions of people are being left in the lurch. A discomfort that could be alleviated by acting in another way.
Not everyone is paying the exact toll for this crisis. It is that we are all equal, but some are more equal than others (Orwell). Apart from some discomforts, some have gotten away from this crisis or even those who have done excellent business, like Amazon, Google, who see the horizon painted in colours with a jubilant mood. Some are not anxious, sad, or worried. In other words, the effects of the Covid-19 virus are not aseptic, neutral; they do not occur in a vacuum. The results take place in a particular social model.
The virus is there and creates suffering and discomfort, but a good part of its effects are amplified by how our society works. Thus, young people already had problems before Covid-19. Still, it has been the operating model of our society and has responded to the Covid-19 pandemic that has amplified them and made the pandemic so stressful for them. But there is a tendency to blame everything on Covid-19.
Converting all this suffering, which is significant of social origin that can be remedied, into a mental disorder is a gross error because it adds even more problems of chronification, stigma and non-resolution of the issues that generate discomfort.
Apart from that, from the psychological point of view, it is unnecessary to confuse a risk factor for a mental disorder with a cause of mental illness. There are situations of stress and grief that do not necessarily mean that they give rise to mental disorder, with a cause-effect relationship, something that is being done and that also favours medicalization. Moreover, in most cases, stress and grief do not generate mental disorder because we are endowed with resilience, and there are also protective factors in our midst. People who suffer from this psychological suffering must be helped psychologically, but understanding very well where it comes from and how it is expressed and intervening at the prevention and health promotion level and applying the many psychosocial and psychoeducational techniques that we have.
If we add to the discomfort that already exists stemming from social factors that are not resolved, turning it into mental disorders will happen to us that soccer goalkeeper to whom the teammates told him: we do not ask you to stop the balls, we settle for that you do not put inside the balls that go outside!