Shock therapy: Curfew to curtail COVID-19 spread might just worsen public mental health, morale
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It’s thought curfews work, but there isn’t an abundance of evidence. It’s hard to set up controlled studies, said Taylor, a professor, clinical psychologist and author of The Psychology of Pandemics: Preparing for the Next Global Outbreak of Infectious Disease.
“The rationale is that when people disregard social distancing, they do it at night. So, you lock everyone down. Of course, you’re still putting people in closed spaces. It just happens to be their own homes,” Taylor said.
It’s about trying to balance the containment of infection versus people’s mental well-being. We’ve already seen a rise in anxiety, depression, substance abuse and domestic violence. Taylor said we can expect further instances of that in Quebec.
“This thing has lasted so long,” Taylor said. “People were expecting and hoping in 2021 things would open up.” The ongoing, and progressively severe restrictions and uncertainties are wearing away at people, he said.
Humans are social animals. When kept apart, cut off from things we find meaningful and enjoyable, it impacts our moods, and with low moods comes irritability. “If we’re going to have a curfew there needs to be in place, and visibly in place, mental health resources to help people get through this period,” Taylor said.
Most people will be resilient, he said. “We’re not going to like it. We’re gonna feel stressed out and irritable and perhaps depressed, but most people will bounce back.
However, the more curfews you pile upon people, and the longer they are, the more oppressive and stressful for everyone, he said.
With files from Montreal Gazette