U of R Prof. digging into the mental health effect of COVID-19

A professor at the University of Regina has received funding for his research on the psychological effects of COVID-19.

Dr, Gordon Asmundson has started a project called “COVID-19: The Role of Psychological Factors in the Spreading of Disease, Discrimination, and Distress;” aimed at understanding how and why people react the way they do during a pandemic.

Asmundson says that fear of the unknown and the feeling of not being in control are rampant in situations like this, and they may be significant factors in the spread of COVID-19.

“Psychological factors play a major role in the spread and containment of infection and socially disruptive behaviours,” said Asmundson. “So psychological factors have an important public health implication.”

He said in times of crisis, there are usually three different responses. The first one is over responding, which leads people to panic buying, the second one is responding, which is preparing accordingly, and the last one is under responding, an example of that would be the college students partying on the beaches of Florida for spring break.

“Each of those have different impacts on the viral spread, or containment of the viral spread,” said Asmundson. “While we do have a little bit of information about that from previous pandemics, we have never been faced with anything like this. We’ve never been faced with changes that are being asked of us.”

“We are really living in a different reality, what was normal before, is not normal.”

Asmundson says he has confidence that things will return to normal, and when they do, people will be more a little more mindful in how they conduct their day to day lives.

He also applauded the people that have gotten creative and realized that just because people are self-isolated, doesn’t mean that people are alone.

Asmundson says that we are lucky to live in a time where we can maintain our needs to socialize without actually being together physically.

He added that in times like these feelings of stress and anxiety are normal, but we need to check our emotions because fear is more contagious than any disease.

Asmundson says if we can model as much calmness as possible, it will help us all get through this feeling a lot better.

“These are interesting and challenging times, but we’re all a resilient bunch and we can rise to the challenge and we’re going to get through this.”

More from 620 CKRM