How does social isolation affect mental health

Psychiatry, psychosomatics & psychotherapy


Social isolation can make you sick

People are social beings and depend on fellowship with others. Personal contact, facial expressions, gestures and touch are very short during the Corona crisis.

Contact bans and quarantine measures mean social isolation and have immediate negative psychosocial consequences. Responsible corona crisis management must therefore include not only measures to protect against infection, but also psychosocial strategies to protect mental health.

People are social beings and depend on fellowship with others. Personal contact, facial expressions, gestures and touch are often decisive for well-being and health. Isolation and quarantine measures, especially if they last for a long time and are accompanied by a loss of income and existential fears, have a negative impact on health, especially on mental health. In both healthy and mentally ill people, they can lead to depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, stress and anger. In the long term, social isolation can increase feelings of loneliness and social stigma. Education, information and prevention counteract this. Therefore, from the point of view of the DGPPN, offers to maintain and promote the mental health of the population must be an integral part of responsible psychosocial corona crisis management.

"Mental health is of crucial importance in dealing with the pandemic," said DGPPN President Andreas Heinz, "and not only to strengthen resilience and resistance, but also because of the great stress and social isolation for the general population and especially for people with mental illness represents. Interpersonal encounters stabilize health. In this respect, in addition to digital treatment and therapy options, it is essential to maintain inpatient and outpatient treatment capacities and to start up again as soon as possible. Because not all people have access to internet-based communication. We also need more knowledge and research on certain psychological aspects such as suicidality, addiction and aggressiveness as a result of social isolation. It is important to develop offers that start at an early stage and help prevent suicides, the development of addictions and domestic violence, or at least reduce them as far as possible. "

The DGPPN is a member of the Public Health Competence Network for COVID-19, an ad hoc association of over 25 scientific societies in the field of public health, which bundle their methodological, epidemiological, statistical, social science and (population) medical expertise. Together they represent several thousand scientists from Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

More information:

Coronavirus - challenges at all levels
Competence Network Public Health COVID-19

Source: DGPPN press release