Survey reveals 80% of people need support to cope with impact of coronavirus crisis

Covid-19 has killed more than 32,000 people in Italy and wreaked havoc on the healthcare system and economy. But as the country creeps out of lockdown, the toll on mental health is beginning to become apparent.

In a recent survey by Italy’s order of psychologists (CNOP), eight in 10 Italians said they needed psychological support to overcome the pandemic, a much higher response compared with similar surveys done in the past.

Sara Reginella, a psychologist in Ancona, in the Marche region, noted an increase in anxiety and depression at the beginning of the lockdown that was connected to the isolation of staying at home.

Even though some freedoms have been restored, she said many people have chosen to stay indoors as they feel safer there.

Now with Italy on the brink of a deep recession, psychologists warn of a cataclysm in mental health as people struggle with financial hardship.

“There are threats to people’s basic needs – they are losing their jobs and homes and worrying about providing for their children’s future,” Reginella said. “We’re not talking about self-fulfilment or spiritual needs but survival.”

Since the beginning of March, 37 people have killed themselves in Italy and 25 have attempted suicide, according to figures gathered by BRF Onlus, a mental health research foundation.

The National Federation of Nurse Guilds confirmed that four nurses on the frontline of the pandemic killed themselves, with the organisation attributing the cause to the overwhelming stress they endured. The suicides of two other people are known to have been triggered by the lockdown.

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