Covid-19: Social and mental health declining, says Sciensano
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Covid-19: Social and mental health declining, says Sciensano

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The social and mental well-being of the population is getting worse as the Covid-19 epidemic continues in Belgium, according to the health institute Sciensano.

Sciensano has just released its fifth health survey, based on contributions from 30,000 members of the public.

What it shows is that people are less satisfied with their social contacts now than they were at the time of the last survey in September. Not surprising, since the conditions now (the poll was taken between 3 and 11 December) are very much stricter than they were back then.

Specifically, 40% of people now feel they receive inadequate social support, compared to 30% in September. Now, 64% of people aged 18 and over are unsatisfied by their social contacts, compared to 34.5% then.

The reporting of anxiety and depressive feelings has risen now to 23% and 20% respectively. The poll showed that anxiety feelings tend to rise and fall with the number of Covid cases, while depressive feelings tend more to track the tightening and loosening of control measures.

Consumption has also changed. Of those who drink alcohol, 29% are drinking less and 20% more. Among smokers, 39% are smoking more and 20% less. And the proportion of drugs users who are using more has gone up from 23.5% in April to 34.5% now.

21% of those polled use sleeping pills or sedatives. Of that group, 42% said their consumption either started or increased since the start of the crisis.

Since the last survey in September, the number of those who say they wish to be vaccinated has gone up from 50% to 60% – again, not surprising, as the first vaccines have begun rolling out of the Pfizer factory in Puurs.

Of those still resisting, 25% said they were undecided, while the remaining 15% said they were absolutely against the idea.

The main reason given by those willing to be vaccinated was the desire to return to a normal way of life. Among waverers and opponents, the main reason was the risk of side-effects and the possibility of negative consequences in the long term.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

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