The wounds of the emotional pain they are invisible; however, in many cases also profound. The aftermath of lockdown, the isolation and the economic crisis they have lived through thousands of lives that have finally staggered. At this time, even in the absence of official figures, experts estimate that at least 30% of society is suffering some mental disorder: anxiety, distress, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. It is a worrying figure if one takes into account that, before the arrival of Covid-19, experts considered that up to 25% of people would have, at some point in their lives, some mental problem. The health and economic crisis have increased the curve of another pandemic, the more silent of all: the mental health disorders.
“This percentage [del 30%] it is an asshole. We knew that, of every 100 people who pass through Plaça de Catalunya a day, 25 would have problems with anxiety, depressive or post-traumatic stress disorder. And what we are seeing, if we take a cross-sectional photo of the square, is that 30 of the 100 people who are right now in the Plaza de Catalunya have a mental disorder “, he explains Josep Antoni Ramos-Quiroga, Head of the Psychiatry Service of the Vall d’Hebron Hospital (Barcelona) and researcher at the Center for Biomedical Research in Mental Health Network (Cibersam). According to him, this 30% could amount to 50% among some groups, such as the workers Y nursing home users.
“People are worse, and we noticed it in the gravity from the clinic. We have the impression that people come too late and with a clear deterioration symptoms “, certifies Ramos-Quiroga. The entire general population, but health workers and employees who work in essential services are among those who suffer the most from anxiety, anxiety, depression or stress. And this psychiatrist thinks that what is to come is even worse, when many more people go unemployed.
The 30% of the population suffers from a mental disorder
The 60% of the CAP visits are due to this problem
A 26% more calls reach the Telephone of Hope
But of all disorders there are one that rebounds above all others and that has to do with the uncertainty that plagues the population: that of anxiety. It is certified by the Catalan Ministry of Health itself. “Anxiety is increasing more than depression. Most of the consultations that are made in primary care are for anxiety “, dice Jordi Blanch, Director of the Plan Director of Mental Health and Addictions of the department. Blanch assures that, although from the second half of March appointments in primary care related to mood disorders “plummeted”, from mid-April visits for anxiety disorders recovered, ” overcoming with profit last year’s volumes in the same period. “
The Federation of Mental Health of Catalonia estimates that depression has triplicate this year and the anxiety has multiplied by four. “The isolation, loss of family without being able to say goodbye, unemployment and uncertainty in the face of the economic situation has generated a huge impact on the mental and emotional health of many families, “says the director of the federation, Marta Poll. “We understand that mental health is related to access to decent housing, to have social relations, work and do leisure activities, “he says Fidel Vilallongas, project and quality manager, of the The Three Hills Foundation, that accompanies people who suffer from a mental health disorder in some of the poorest neighborhoods in Barcelona.
The Generalitat de Catalunya admits that the data currently available do not show the actual scope of the problem, since there is a “infradiagnóstico”, in Blanch’s words, for people go less to the doctor bedside because it has “fear” of getting infected of coronavirus. “What we have seen, throughout this 2020, is that as more people went to the health center, the number of anxiety diagnoses: agoraphobia -phobias in general-, generalized fear, panic disorder & mldr; “, he adds. According to him, anxiety is a disorder that will continue to increase and, if uncertainty is not resolved,” it will remain or it will get worse ” .
After anxiety, the disorder that GPs are seeing the most are mood disorders, such as depression o la bipolarity. And it is not only people who “debutant” in mental disorders (that is, having one for the first time), but also the gravity of those who already suffered one. “There are more serious diseases that come in an even greater state of seriousness, people a lot more unbalanced “, says Blanch. It is a perception that entities like Els Tres Turons also have. “We are seeing a serious deterioration in the recovery process “, says its president.
There are more people who “debut” in a mental health disorder and a greater severity in those who already suffered one
According to the mental health group of the Catalan Society of Family and Community Medicine (Camfic), currently the 60% of visits to the GP are for a mental health issue, 20% more than the previous year. The Camfic confirms that they see patients with depressions that have “worsened” it is included, suicide attempts in people who had already tried.
A data. The Hope Phone (682 300 003), service of support and emotional accompaniment with more than 50 years of history of the Ajuda i Esperança Foundation, received, from March 14 to June 30, 26% more calls (11,421) than the previous year. Most users (a 48,7%) they called for a mental health problem. Later, due to loneliness (36%) and, finally, due to covid-19. “The pandemic aggravates the existing problems,” says Sergio García, a psychologist at the foundation.
Neither minors and adolescents they get rid of emotional pain. Health experts and entities assure that this year the eating disorders (eating disorders), like anorexia. “Especially after the confinement because, during the quarantine, the family controlled the food better,” says psychiatrist Ramos-Quiroga.
“Although what worries me most in minors is the use and abuse of video games and screens. The most common disorder in child and adolescent mental health centers [los CSMIJ] is he attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 6% of the children of the CSMIJ have ADHD and, therefore, more risk of developing addictions. These generations have spent many hours without being able to go out, without doing anything “, adds this psychiatrist.
There are also no population studies to find out how confinement has affected them, but health workers see, in clinical practice, that they spend many hours in front of the screen and that there are “risk of ‘online’ gambling”.
Attention deficits generated by the abuse of screens during confinement have been detected in minors
In children and adolescents, experts are also seeing “difficulties of adaptations” before the processes of loss of family members, stress related to confinement or parents who have become ill, plus irritability and nervousness. “This has been reflected in behavior changes, such as eating disorders or obsession with video games or screens,” he concludes Roger Ballescà, member of the board of the Col·legi de Psicòlegs de Catalunya and employee of a CSMIJ.
A fragile support network
General practitioners are the ones who assess patients with symptoms of mental health problems and recommend that they go to specialized units. In Catalunya, there are about 80 mental health centers for adults (called CSMA) and 60 for minors (CSMIJ). Psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses and social workers work there who treat mental health disorders that are not so serious as to require hospital admission. Son public centers Most of them are managed by social entities and specialized foundations.
For decades, both the Síndic de Greuges and the professionals have warned that the mental health system audience is “fragile” and takes years “saturated”. “The problem, we’ve been saying it for years, is that we lack hands “, he complains Oscar Pino, member of the board of the Col·legi de Psicòlegs de Catalunya and coordinator of a CSMA in the metropolitan area. “We have always been the poor brother medicine, “he adds. This means, for example, that doctors are unable to visit patients with as much frequency as they should.