Identification Of Vulnerable Populations In Terms Of Mental Health

Past experience shows that certain populations are identified as being more vulnerable to mental health problems when there are epidemic episodes [1]:

  • children and adolescents,
  • the elderly (especially those living alone and those with disabilities),
  • the women,
  • people with low socio-economic or educational status or status,
  • minority groups,
  • people with a history of mental health problems,
  • people who do not have adequate social support.

These populations are therefore particularly to be monitored closely in the current context of the global COVID-19 pandemic.


Factors Negatively Influencing Mental Health

Restrictive measures imposed by governments to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as mandatory quarantine, can unfortunately increase feelings of social anxiety, fear and panic [2, 3]. The isolation of the population inevitably leads to the reduction, or even the total interruption of activities related to pleasure and well-being, in particular of the activities which usually take place in cultural places, places of worship, sports and leisure centers, restaurants, without forgetting the family and friends gatherings [4].

Many factors that may have a negative impact on the mental health and psychological well-being of people in confinement are [5]:

  • the duration of the quarantine,
  • fear for his own health,
  • fear of infecting others,
  • frustration,
  • boredom,
  • loss of routine,
  • reduction of social and physical contact,
  • the lack of basic provisions (water, food, clothing, etc.) inadequate information,
  • financial losses social rejection.


Solutions To Put In Place To Preserve Your Mental Health

Mental health professionals can help you cope with this exceptional situation and find tools to help you cope with your anxiety.

There are also solutions that the population, themselves, can put in place to counter the harmful effects of the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • take care of yourself and your loved ones,
  • engage in pleasant or relaxing activities,
  • talk about the experience and their feelings to those close to them,
  • maintain good lifestyle habits (e.g. healthy diet, physical exercise, sleep hygiene, avoid excessive consumption of alcohol or drugs),
  • keep a feeling of hope and a positive thought,
  • find opportunities to report positive stories (e.g. stories of people who have supported a loved one),
  • put the situation into perspective by remembering that public health experts in all countries are working to ensure the availability of the best care for those affected,
  • maintain personal daily routines as much as possible or create new routines if circumstances change,
  • be attentive in times of stress to their needs or feelings in order to be able to identify strategies for resilience and adaptation,
  • share facts about COVID-19 and avoid spreading false concerns or stories,
  • limit yourself to reliable sources of information about the epidemic at specific times of the day.


Specific Measures For The Elderly In Terms Of Mental Health

For the elderly, here are some practical tips, specific to your age group, to help you cope with this exceptional situation:

  • seek practical and emotional support through the social network,
  • be ready and know in advance where and how to get practical help if necessary (family and loved ones),
  • learn simple daily physical exercises to do at home.


Helpful Resources for Mental Health

If, despite taking all of these measures, you feel that you are not doing well, it is important to seek help from mental health professionals:

  • your family doctor knows you and can provide good advice on your psychological state;
  • Info-social-8-1-1 is a free and confidential service that will guide you to the appropriate resources;
  • walk-in clinics that have extended hours;
  • Montreal crisis centers intervene with adults in psychological or psychosocial distress.




Sources :

  1. Perrin, P.C., et al., Preparing for an influenza pandemic: mental health considerations. Prehosp Disaster Med, 2009. 24(3): p. 223-30.
  2. Bao, Y., et al., 2019-nCoV epidemic: address mental health care to empower society. Lancet, 2020. 395(10224): p. e37-e38.
  3. Zhang, J., et al., Recommended psychological crisis intervention response to the 2019 novel coronavirus pneumonia outbreak in China: a model of West China Hospital. Precis Clin Med, 2020.
  4. Canady, V.A., COVID‐19 outbreak represents a new way of mental health service delivery. 2020. 30(12): p. 1-4.
  5. Brooks, S.K., et al., The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: rapid review of the evidence. The Lancet, 2020. 395(10227): p. 912-920.


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