Swiss day of action urges people to seek help amid Covid-19 stress

The government is encouraging the public to “break the taboo” on mental health and talk to friends, family or experts about how they are feeling. Keystone / Laurent Gillieron

The Swiss government has launched a nationwide awareness campaign to encourage people to seek support as the pandemic and restrictions take a toll on mental health.

This content was published on December 10, 2020 - 08:00

The government announced that December 10 is “Talk about it. Seek helpExternal link.” day, an effort designed to help boost people’s mental and emotional wellbeing as the pandemic’s second wave continues to impact Switzerland.

“The day of action will also educate people about the importance of being attentive to people around them and offering help,” said the statement announcing the campaign.

The government, along with partners at various charities and awareness organisations, is encouraging the public to “break the taboo” on mental health and talk to friends, family or experts about how they are feeling. As part of the campaign, mental health experts and organisations are offering strategies and advice on how to deal with and support others with anxiety and other emotional stress during this time.

A survey by the public health office at the end of October, found that some 15% of the population felt either very bad or bad due to the coronavirus situation. Financial worries, family conflicts and feelings of loneliness have increased while at the same time, some proven coping strategies such as hanging out with friends aren’t possible, acknowledges the government.

Corona fatigue and fears

SWI readers recently shared some of their emotional ups and downs during coronavirus, and weighed in on how they have seen the pandemic impacting mental health.

On our German-language site, one reader wrote that the “collateral damage to the heart and soul will be immense. With children I see compulsions, fears in the future - it will take decades before it is ‘good’ again - if it can happen at all.”

The reader expressed concern about the effects of 10 months of social distancing, masks, and time spent inside. The uncertainty and hysteria associated with political measures to address the pandemic also weigh on the public psyche, the reader writes. 

One reader in English wrote of stress due to inability to work and that someone in their family had to spend many days in the army, which provided support to cantons during coronavirus. The commenter, who appears to be from abroad, also added that they’ve started to feel less welcome in Switzerland.

Since the start of the pandemic, a reader on our Arabic site wrote that he or she has been almost confined to their apartment, “leaving it only when absolutely necessary, and seeking the help of a psychiatrist does not help, as the doctor suffers like others”. 

A reader living in Argentina wrote in Spanish that “we have all gone through some days of emotional ups and downs, depending on the news that reached us or the over-information so contradictory and, sometimes, unreliable to which we are exposed in these times”. The reader added that children also suffered from the lack of face-to-face schooling.

Finding calm and silver linings

Some readers were also able to find bright spots and comfort in spending more time at home with close family. One contributor wrote that the family is a lot more relaxed since working from home. “Having a lot more time together because of work from home made us decide not to go back to having the second job.”

The reader added that the pandemic prompted a move to a smaller village, which is cheaper and will allow them to spend more time with grandparents.

The reader in Argentina found some coping strategies: “hobbies and physical or motivational activities helped us to cope with the uncertainty, the fear of the unknown and that feeling of insecurity so present in these times”.

Another reader commented in German on how the coronavirus period “can make us aware of our strengths, that we can do without, stand together. It enables us to have the experience of not having to want too much, needing to be less loud and fast, [this] has relaxing qualities”.

On Facebook, a French-speaking reader wrote that his mental health is very good and “he laughs as much has possible during the day”.

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