After a few months of respite we find ourselves once again tackling the issue of the Covid-19 emergency and its impact on the psycho-physical health of the people who are more or less directly affected by it.
Furthermore, the particular period we are experiencing sees us engaged in a forced coexistence with an element beyond human control , capable of making even the simplest gestures of daily life complicated.
Is it possible to already detect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health?
That there is an impact on mental health is inevitable , it can also be seen simply by the increasingly frequent sponsorship of drugs to treat anxiety symptoms, which promise to find a healthy balance in one’s life with little effort. But to have clarity of the phenomenon it is necessary to refer to studies and researches .
What was found in the Italian context?
In Italy, the Reference Center for Behavioral Sciences and Mental Health of the Istituto Superiore della Sanità (ISS) has participated and conducted studies to better understand the aspects related to the impact of the emergency situation on the mental health of the population since the early stages of the pandemic , and has also conducted surveys to evaluate the state of the services available to the population .
What did the investigation focus on?
In June 2020, the National Twin Registry (RNG) managed within the Center launched a survey on the population of twins to assess the impact on daily life and the repercussions of the pandemic on the psycho-emotional balance of the population, including the request for recourse to mental health specialists.
What did the data show?
From the sample made up of about 2700 adult twins (average age 45 years, 64% women) and 878 families with underage twins (average age 9 years), the first results showed that:
- Almost all of the adult sample was constantly informed on the progress of the pandemic using various channels (TV, Radio and institutional sites) and that a quarter of the twins believe their knowledge is extensive.
- During the lockdown, 85 % of respondents or their cohabitants had no symptoms attributable to SARS-CoV-2 infections, while a clear impact of the pandemic on mental health conditions emerges in terms of perceived stress and the presence of anxious and depressive symptoms . In fact , depressive or stress symptoms were observed in 11 and 14% of the sample, respectively . On the other hand, anxiety levels were beyond the normal range in about half of the subjects examined.
- For twins aged 11 to 17 , 16% slept worse during the lockdown period, and at least 75% stayed in touch with friends via text and/or video calls . Although only 4% showed strong concern about their physical and mental health, 13% said they felt sad quite often and 11% said they felt lonely quite often.
How can we intervene to prevent the increase in psychological discomfort resulting from the pandemic?
Given studies of previous outbreaks, the demand for mental health services is likely to increase . This will mean coping with a demand that will require an investment of additional economic resources , capable of financing services capable of meeting the needs of the population.
But will the economic investment alone be enough?
In all likelihood, together with funding, it will be necessary to design innovative services capable of responding to the needs of a population which, in addition to showing the symptoms of suffering linked to traumatic and stressful events suffered, will have to leverage its own resources to deal with overcoming obstacles and new challenges to rebuild its future .
Can Single Session Therapy represent a resource in this direction?
The Single Session Therapy method can be a valid tool for responding to all the needs highlighted above. On the one hand it is able to simultaneously meet the economic needs of services and people , making interventions more accessible and economical in terms of time and costs. Furthermore, the possibility of applying it in different areas of intervention (e.g. mental health centres, counseling centres, schools, companies) makes it possible to reach different categories of customers. On the other hand, the focus of the method on people’s resources and their ability to overcome difficulties allows them to overcome symptoms and problems related to contingencies in design termsand not only in terms of diseases to be treated.
There is no doubt that healthcare will have to invest in mental health services in the near future. The data in general reveal that many sections of the population have been severely affected by the pandemic, in particular healthcare workers, family members of patients affected by COVID-19, students, people with mental health problems and those who live in disadvantaged socio-economic conditions or who have seen their jobs lost . The challenge therefore will be to be able to take care of everyone, while offering everyone the service that best suits their needs and possibilities. Thanks to its characteristics, the SST could represent an innovative and effective response in a still uncertain panorama.
Team Psychotherapist of the Italian Center
for Single Session Therapy
Cannistrà, F., & Piccirilli, F. (2018). Single Session Therapy: Principles and Practices . Florence: Giunti Editore.
Higher Institute of Health (2020). The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health: the commitment in ISS from https://www.epicentro.iss.it/coronavirus/sars-cov-2-salute-mentale.