Beyond its severity in the healthcare field, the Covid-19 crisis has created a highly challenging scenario for our society. Concern about the eventual loss of employment or income, the difficulty in reconciling work with family life or confinement itself are just some of the consequences derived from the pandemic that could cause significant damage to our psychological and emotional well-being.
Several investigations have already been launched to shed light on the matter. Although the time of analysis is still very short, certain indicators such as the number of medical consultations made on issues related to anxiety and depression or the increase in the consumption of drugs and alcohol seem to show the impact that this situation is having on people’s mental health.
With the help of testimonials from the CitieS-Health community, we were able to define some of the most relevant fields for people in this confinement!
Anxiety and apathy, generalised feelings
Participants agree that they experienced feelings of sadness, anxiety, and restlessness during the weeks of confinement. Similarly, they say they have experienced greater emotional instability and fluctuations in their mood. Moreover, they have perceived a lower ability to concentrate and an increase in tiredness and apathy in the development of their daily tasks. These are all feelings that are linked to uncertainty and concerns arising from the situation.
Although the studies carried out have identified indicators of validated scales in the field of mental health such as low self-esteem, stress, anxiety, symptoms of depression or suicidal thoughts, it is still too early to know whether these effects will continue during a long period of time. For now, we must be extremely cautious with these conclusions and encourage the development of long-term studies to more accurately assess the impact that the confinement and the socioeconomic situation of Covid-19 may have on the mental health of the population.
Hopes on an environmental level
But not everything is dark regarding the effects of the crisis. The environmental level has experienced a relative respite during confinement. According to data issued by the Generalitat de Catalunya, during the weeks in which the mobility restriction measures were stricter, pollution by nitrogen dioxide (NO²), one of the main pollutants related to traffic in cities, was reduced between 70% and 80% in Barcelona.
And not only that. Noise levels in the city also fell more than 9 decibels (dB) during the first week after the declaration of the State of Emergency, continued to decrease in the second week (another 2 dB) and stabilised in the third.
Much of our community, in fact, claims to have perceived less noise and higher air quality during confinement days. What’s more, they say they value the fact that they have spent less time each day on transportation.
A collective responsibility
The potential decrease in terms of pollution that we have experienced this Spring should, however, be sustained over time in order to significantly reduce its effects on our health. A task for which we will have to continue working through projects that, like CitieS-Health, promote joint work between citizens, researchers and administrations.
There is already an existing abundance of these proposals. Among the most notorious ones raised by our community, the need to increase pedestrian spaces with vegetation and the promotion of more forceful measures of urban design to help reduce traffic and improve citizen mobility through non-polluting formulas stand out.