University of Sherbrooke releases study on psychological impacts of pandemic on Quebecers

By Reann Fournier, Special to The Record

This week the University of Sherbrooke released the results of an international study showing that pandemic-induced anxiety and depression are present in Quebec and Canada, although the country is showing lower numbers then the United States.
Seven regions in Quebec were represented in the survey pool, including Estrie, and the study found that the situation was worse in urban areas. Here, numbers increased from one in five adults experiencing anxiety and depression symptoms throughout the pandemic to one in four.
According to the results of the study, young adults, anglophones, and health care workers are the most heavily affected group in all seven regions. The results showed that 37 per cent of adults aged 18-24 had reported symptoms of anxiety and depression, and stated that this was concerning. The release stated that it was also striking to see that Anglophones are twice as likely as Francophones to experience anxiety and depressive symptoms.
The study also discussed stigmatization of individuals who could have the virus. Victims of this stigma include people who have tested positive or come in contact with a positive case, young adults, healthcare workers, immigrants (specifically those of Asian descent) and Montrealers. The stigma associated with the virus doubles the risk of experiencing anxiety or depressive symptoms, the study points out.
According to the study, young adults, anglophones, and healthcare workers have little trust in authorities, perceive COVID-19 as a high threat, and regularly turn to the internet for information concerning the virus. Researchers also cited a sense of coherence, which is the ability to understand and control stressful events, as a factor that has affected mental health during the pandemic.
Four recommendations were made to help deal with mental health issues post-pandemic. These include deploying specialized psychiatric teams to assist the population, better equipping frontline services and setting up a network of citizens trained in psychological first aid, strengthening community support, and adapting basic services to meet the psychological needs of vulnerable groups.

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