Swallowed up by the pandemic | The duty

Daphney Bradette says it frankly: the return to confinement which began again at midnight on Wednesday night hit her like a hammer blow.

“The first two weeks of the first confinement were almost funny,” said the 23-year-old Montrealer. After that, it quickly became difficult. Now we know what it is. I feel a lot of sadness and I am afraid of falling into a depression. “

She has been working as an interior designer for two years, at home at the start of the pandemic, returning to the office for a few weeks. “Telecommuting has been very, very difficult and I don’t want to do it again,” she says. It was just negative and nothing positive. “

She also admits that this darkened perspective is now forcing her to ask deep questions about the why and how of her existence in the days of the coronavirus.

“I have the impression that this situation develops a kind of urgency to live. It’s as if it’s the end of the world and everything has to be done now. We don’t know how much time we have left. We don’t know what’s going to happen. So, you might as well do everything now. “

This feeling seems to him shared by those around him. Daphney Bradette also puts it bluntly: her relatives are no better than her.

“It’s very common to feel pain. Yesterday [lundi], friends wrote to me and they were all depressed. There is nothing left. Everyone is on the verge of crying. What does the future look like for our generation? A life under a global pandemic. A life under climate change. A life in huge financial trouble. We are in the dark. We are in a hole with no hope of getting out. “

Worrisome results

The crevasse, wide and deep, has engulfed many people in recent months. A survey by the University of Sherbrooke released on Tuesday confirms the extent of the psychosocial impact of the pandemic on the Quebec population. One in five adults would have had symptoms consistent with generalized anxiety disorder or major depression in the two weeks preceding the web survey administered in early September.

The situation deteriorates even more in urban areas, with one in four adults stricken. Three groups in particular stand out in this dark section: healthcare workers, English speakers and, most importantly, young adults. In the latter case, one in three adults aged 18 to 24 (37% of the group) reports anxiety or depressive symptoms.

A life under a global pandemic. A life under climate change. A life in huge financial trouble. We are in the dark. We are in a hole with no hope of getting out.

The survey is part of a larger international (in eight countries) and interdisciplinary (health, political science and communications) approach which initially made it possible (late May-early June) to show the “fairly high” global scope. »Anxiety and depression, however more evident in the United States than in Canada or Quebec. A new section will eventually make it possible to resume this global comparison. For the moment, this Quebec-only survey offers “a small addition,” as the work manager, Professor Mélissa Généreux, of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Sherbrooke, summarizes.

“The data showed it wasn’t going well in June and still wasn’t doing well in September,” she adds. We can see how quickly things are changing. There is a difference between how it felt two weeks ago and how it feels today with the announcements of new lockdown. Our fairly serious assumption is that the situation is set to deteriorate with the implementation of the new isolation measures. “

Daphney Bradette testifies to this. The professor cites the case of her own students at her university, where training continues to be given in person. At 5:30 p.m. Monday, the course ceased to allow students to watch François Legault’s fateful lecture announcing Quebec’s lockout.

“It was depressing to see the faces of the students, in the 18-24 age range, by far the most affected at the moment. The pandemic is turning everyone’s world upside down, but at this age, the hindsight is less. The younger you are, the more affected you are, on average, obviously. I think it stems from the difficulty of making sense of it all and trusting yourself to get through it because you’ve already overcome some serious issues. I offer an analogy with a heartbreak. The first is often the most difficult. “


The Dre Generous makes the “feeling of coherence” (or rather its absence, or its weakness) the central risk factor for sinking psychologically. The survey measures this by asking questions related to the ability to understand stressful events, make sense of them and deal with them. Just 6.5% of people who have a high sense of consistency show symptoms of depression compared to 26% of those who have a lower sense of consistency.

The initial hypothesis of the survey also establishes that communication strategies in times of pandemic influence the psychological response of populations. Basically, the media treatment of the pandemic would modulate perceptions of the crisis and individual resilience.

This rapprochement could explain why Anglo-Québécois like the youngest are more anxious and depressed. The former feed on American networks, reputed to be more alarmist; the second consult social networks or their entourage rather than traditional media sources like good old TV.

The importance of an adequate communication strategy is obvious. “We talk a lot about the fight against the virus, the number of deaths, etc. », Says the doctor, herself a former director of public health in Estrie. She was in charge of the sector at the time of the Lac-Mégantic Crazy Train tragedy (July 2013, 47 dead), where she documented anxious reactions similar to those experienced in a crisis situation.

“To nurture the feeling of coherence, we must also give the population tools. Young people get information on the Internet. Is the communication strategy adequate enough? We can ask the question. We can ask another question for English speakers: do we reach them correctly? The Prime Minister’s press conference delivers a cohesive speech, but it does not reach everyone equally. “

A more fragmented and adapted strategy would make it possible to resolve certain problems, say, upstream. For people with psychological ailments, professional services are still needed. Daphney Bradette has decided to see a psychologist. His decision was taken before Prime Minister Legault’s fateful conference on Monday to announce a new major collective confinement. “I had already started the process. I’m going to get help, ”she sums up.

“Clinical services alone are not enough,” concludes Dr.re Generous. It is utopian to think that the clinical setting will be able to treat one in three, four or five people, assuming that everyone will seek help. To absorb such psychological suffering of the population, it will be necessary to use the community first line to read the alarm signals, accompany the suffering people and give psychological first aid. We need a larger safety net to receive help from the hairdresser, neighbors, friends, teachers … “


The Université de Sherbrooke survey is based on a Web survey conducted by the firm Léger among 6,261 adults from September 4 to 14, 2020. The Quebecers questioned were reached in seven health regions of Quebec: Mauricie-Center du Québec , Estrie, Montreal, Laval, Lanaudière, Laurentides and Montérégie. In short, all of the south of the province, still the most affected by the new pandemic wave.

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