LN – Quarantine. They warn of an increase in consultations for loss of the meaning of life

More than 100 days after the mandatory quarantine was decreed,

the effects of the pandemic on mental health

of the Argentines

they make themselves felt

and not only for those who have pre-existing pathologies. The referents consulted by LA NACION warn of an exponential increase in

toll-free calls

where to ask for psychological and emotional support. In particular, consultations are for serious situations: cases of

extreme depression

and of

loss of the meaning of life

, which often lead to suicidal ideas.

This critical picture is reflected in the numbers of the last survey of the Observatory of Applied Social Psychology (OPSA), of the Faculty of Psychology of the UBA, the fourth since the quarantine began. Over 2,940 people consulted from the main urban centers of the country, along with concern, uncertainty and anxiety, which are the most expressed feelings, there are

57% who said they felt depression

, of which 18% reported being very or quite depressed, while 41% experienced to some degree a loss of meaning in life, reaching high levels in 14% of the respondents. In these two variables measured by OPSA, it is young people between the ages of 18 and 29 who showed the greatest impact.

“We received almost a

100% more requests for help in the

line 135 of what we commonly had before the pandemic, “warns Nora Fontana, a psychologist and member of the Suicide Assistance Center (CAS).” We are receiving many calls from angry adolescents, who say they are tired of the relationship with their parents , and of many people who no longer have contention in the spaces they went to in crisis, “he explains. For this reason, Fontana considers that

listening becomes indispensable

and that these lines are essential tools to accompany in those moments.

Paula Quattrocchi is a psychologist and one of the heads of the Psychological Attention Service that the Faculty of Psychology of the UBA put into operation during the quarantine. “The number is growing over the weeks,” she says, and puts it in figures:

have already received 2300 queries

, with an average of almost 70 calls a day. “From day 60 of quarantine, we had to change the care protocol due to the number of more complex cases that the service was beginning to receive,” Quattrocchi says. The first most anxious pictures, a situation generated by confinement, were followed by an increase in depressive symptoms. “This is expressed in the loss of the meaning of life, sadness, reluctance and discouragement,” he describes.

From the Argentine Psychoanalytic Association (APA), which also have a virtual free attention space, they agree on the change in demand. Claudia Borensztejn, psychoanalyst doctor and president of the organization explains that in the beginning, people were distressed and 70% of the calls were suitable for containment, but no longer and many must refer to guards or other specialists because more people appeared with emergencies, such as suicidal fantasies or in need of medication. “In older people, there is an increase in the loss of interest, they call very discouraged. They start to eat less, they lose weight and that is a very big risk,” Borensztejn graphs. In this situation, she stresses that

“knowing that they have a place to call is very reassuring”

. The psychologist calls it “psychological first aid”, because “that listening and containment can help people to go through this moment and be prepared to resume their lives.”

27 years ago, Ramona Martínez has been part of SOS un Amigo Anónimo, a non-profit association that has been offering confidential and anonymous telephone assistance to people experiencing emotional crisis for five decades. ”

We are contact beings

and that is why it is so important that there is another who listens to you with interest. That undoubtedly lowers your anguish “, he assures. For Martínez, his task” is to accompany and reflect together with the callers on their problems to guide them to find possible ways “.

Where and how to ask for help

  • Argentine Psychoanalytic Association (APA).

    During the pandemic, the Argentine Psychoanalytic Association launched a free hotline with more than 150 professional volunteers. They provide free care to the community and health professionals. In recent weeks, they attended 900 queries from all over the country. “People are very grateful, they are one, two or three calls, we listened, we gave a simple indication, many people who had never called a psychologist, called,” says Borensztejn. Those interested should leave the query on the platform, then someone from the team communicates and finds out what it is about. Telephone containment is provided and if necessary, refer to the corresponding treatment according to the area.
  • Service of Psychological Attention of the Faculty of Psychology of the UBA.

    This free pandemic psychological care service aims to provide resources, listening and psychological assistance in a single communication. “The object was to provide help, because we knew that the pandemic and the quarantine were going to affect mental health, the disruptive situation is very strong: life changed dramatically overnight,” Quattrocchi said. Those who want to consult, must complete their data by entering assistance.psi.uba.ar. Then, a professional will communicate to make a virtual meeting.
  • SOS an Anonymous Friend.

    This non-profit association that for almost five decades has been offering anonymous and confidential telephone assistance for people experiencing an emotional crisis, in the context of a pandemic, is receiving calls by Skype (user: SOSUNAMIGOANONIMO). There are 30 volunteers who allow SOS to work every day from 10am to 7pm. They call and attend directly. “Isolation is physical, but it should not be spiritual or social. Talking about what happens to us with another in an attitude of listening, accommodates the thought, because many times one sees their problems in the form of a tunnel, and thus begins to find answers “, Martinez details.
  • Line 135.

    Given the demand, the Suicide Assistance Center (CAS) is attending 18 hours a day, from 8 to 2 in the morning, anonymously, free and voluntarily. The technique they use is “active listening”, with interventions aimed at making the “client” speak. “It is about listening to the other person putting himself in his place, with empathy, committing himself to what is happening to him and, from there, saying things that can help him”, Fontana describes and explains that “anonymity helps the person open your heart. ” And he adds: “This is an exceptional context, people are very in need of psychological and spiritual resources, because we must bear in mind that even the churches are closed.” Line 135 is free from CABA or Greater Buenos Aires; and (011) 5275-1135 (for the entire country).
  • National Hospital in Network Specialized in Mental Health and Addictions “Lic. Laura Bonaparte”.

    It has an Emergency Committee that conducts telephone interviews to advise and contain people who suffer the effects of social, preventive and compulsory isolation. Served by mental health professions, the phone line: (011) 4305-0091-96, intern 1155, is available from 8am to 8pm.
  • Mental Health Responds CABA.

    A device that provides confidential telephone guidance for residents of the city of Buenos Aires. Tels: 4863-8888 / 48615586 / 4123-3120, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 20. 4123-3100 int. 3484/3485 holidays, weekend and night, from 20 to 8.
  • Argentine Psychoanalytic Center Foundation.

    It implemented a free attention system, both by phone and by video call. It seeks to respond to the effects caused by compulsory social distancing, such as depressive states, anxiety, phobic symptoms or the exacerbation of pre-existing conditions. To request an appointment, call Monday to Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., at the telephone numbers (011) 4822-4690 / 4823-4941 / 4821-2366. www.fcpa.com.ar

  • Kennedy University.

    Through its Faculties of Psychological Sciences, it launched an online care service, which will operate during the quarantine for free, which provides emotional orientation and psychological and psychopedagogical attention. Write to [email protected] with the following information: name, surname, email and cell phone.
  • Maimonides University.

    The Psychology degree provides an online therapy service, free of charge and for the duration of the quarantine, aimed at providing emotional support, guidance and listening, open to the entire community. Write to [email protected] leaving a phone or contact information of preference.
  • Association of Psychologists of Buenos Aires (APBA).

    It has a care area open to the community that works with institutional fees, more accessible than private care. Those interested must do an interview and then they are derivatives. The attention offered is by phone or virtual. Inquiries writing to: [email protected], [email protected]



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