COVID 19: the people of Ticino and their resilience

Resilience is the ability to adjust readily to traumatic events and to reorganise one’s life positively. Greater flexibility, adaptation to difficulties and control of one’s emotions become even more relevant in times of crisis, such as that triggered by the coronavirus to avoid depression, anxiety and stress. Panic, agitation, irritability, anxiety, inability to feel positive emotions... In times of pandemic, it is essential to monitor the impact on mental health. The Corona Immunitas Ticino study, conducted by Emiliano Albanese Professor of Public Health at USI, not only measures the extent of the spread of the coronavirus and immunity in the population but also analyses the impact on mental health. The study reveals that the people of Ticino has shown, during the pandemic, to have the psychological resources to manage stress and mental fatigue. Emiliano Albanese, Head of the study, guides us through the results in an interviewed by the Sunday paper Il Caffè ( the article in Italian ).

In Ticino, the research, coordinated by USI and SUPSI in collaboration with the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB, affiliated USI), the Laboratory of Applied Microbiology (SUPSI) and the Cantonal Hospital (EOC), involved a sample of 13 thousand people, aged between 5 and 104 years. In this context, the first group of people, aged between 20 and 64 years, was presented (since July 2020), in addition to the serological test, also several questionnaires, including Dass-21 (depression, anxiety, stress) consisting of twenty-one questions to be answered every month. The questions cover several aspects: from difficulty in breathing to being able to feel positive emotions, from fatigue in carrying out regular chores, to the tendency to overreact to a particular situation. This initial data, four months after the start of the study, already gives some indication of how the virus is impacting mental health. Looking at the interim results, almost 90% of participants were not afraid to panic, which indicates a good sense of self-control. A very positive outcome, especially taking into account that during the four months of testing, this response has not undergone any significant change. Another relevant data is that about two-thirds of the people interviewed (65%), reported having experienced positive emotions. During the summer, the ratio increased to over seventy per cent. Finally, more than half of the respondents said they had no difficulty in starting their daily activities.

"The population has shown the ability to cope and manage stress" explains Professor Emiliano Albanese in the interview released at the Sunday paper Il Caffè. "After four questionnaires filled out monthly, we noticed that the levels of depression and anxiety are not particularly touched. We will see if and how the answers will change in the coming weeks". An element to be taken into account is, in fact, the "psychologically harder" extent of the second wave. For the expert, this study "will also provide vital information to assess the impact of the containment measures. For example, whether the population and at what age, is better able to withstand another lockdown.