Israeli mental health experts say that while anxiety and depression increased among the general population during lockdown, those already receiving help for either condition did not find that the lockdown made it worse.
Speaking to Jewish News this week, Liron David of the Israeli mental health association Enosh said the findings came from a recent poll of service users and that the results were encouraging. “We see stable conditions and not worsening,” she said. “We assume it is because of the support they get.”
The findings will come as a relief, the organisation having warned in April that “individuals who are already struggling with their mental health are at higher risk of experiencing worsening symptoms of anxiety and depression”.
During the pandemic, Enosh added two mental health hotlines, and in a World Health Organisation submission said lockdown and quarantine “obviously accelerates anxiety and depression” in those with psychosocial disabilities.
Asked about the effect of social distancing rules, which are now being slowly relaxed, she said: “Research shows that social networks and wellness activities and support from close relationship improve mental health.
“There are many things we gain from physical face-to-face contact. In rehabilitation frameworks like ours, it is sometimes essential to be near the person and help him gain social skills and day to day skills.”
Addressing what newspapers in the UK have termed ‘coronaphobia’ to describe virus-related fear of social contact, she said: “We don’t see that as a problem here… There is a lower percentage of that in Israel.”