a Lyon study reveals the damage to containment

confinement degats psychologiques ra sante 696x464 - a Lyon study reveals the damage to containment
The isolation and the feeling of being deprived of their freedoms hurt the French a lot during the spring 2020 confinement. © Prostooleh / Freepik

A Lyon study sought to assess the mental well-being of the French population during a period of confinement. This large-scale survey was able to poll more than 20,000 anonymous online participants in a very short period of time.

On the strength of this strong mobilization, the first results have arrived and give their findings. Explanations from Professor Nicolas Franck, psychiatrist and head of department at CH Le Vinatier in Lyon.

Containment: a degraded notion of mental well-being

The investigation was released online during the second week of the lockdown. It aimed to identify the level of mental well-being of the confined participants. But what do we mean by mental well-being?

"Well-being in general is the feeling of being in harmony with your environment, your goals, and having a satisfactory overall feeling", explains Professor Nicolas Franck. More precisely, mental well-being is based on several concepts. Being optimistic about your future, feeling useful, relaxed, filled with energy. But also to be able to think clearly and to solve his problems, to feel loved, confident and close to others.

As expected, the confinement has not been without consequences for the mental health of the French. While some were less affected than others, this episode subjected the population to a psychological test. Much more than a simple rest or a vacation! Indeed, the study notes many cases of degraded well-being in the face of "Isolation, loss of bearings and partial deprivation of liberty".

Social and environmental factors: inequalities

The survey set out to describe the determinants of mental well-being. Indeed, the context and conditions of the confinement experienced can vary from one person to another and thus produce risk or protective factors.

On the positive side, several criteria contributed to the mental health of the confined. Among them, the fact of being an accompanied and educated man. Or be confined to a larger area, especially with an exterior. Likewise, people who continued to go to work or benefited from regular social contact by telephone had higher mental well-being scores.

On the other hand, certain factors have proved to be penalizing for mental health during confinement. This is the case for parents with a child under 10, students and people with disabilities. But contrary to popular belief, retirees and health care providers posted very high well-being scores.

Confinement: students most severely affected

The aim of this study was also to be able to provide tailored support to vulnerable populations. This is the case for students, a category particularly negatively impacted by confinement. Indeed, "Students often live in a small apartment, far from their families and whose social network is not fully established", explains Prof. Nicolas Franck. Especially since this period of life is full "Uncertainty about the course of the student and his future". Thus generating a certain socio-professional fragility.

Addictions and depression rising

Prof. Nicolas Franck and his colleagues were also interested in the dependency habits of the participants. Alcohol, smoking, food consumption, consumption of screens … The survey thus reveals that this period noted "More increase in addiction habits than decreases". Overall, these results reflected greater overall stress and reduced mental well-being.

At the end of the day, depression and even depression. Some have developed other specific psychiatric disorders such as OCD, phobias and behavioral disorders.

What about deconfinement?

If, since the deconfinement, social contact is still limited due to health measures, the situation has nothing to do with the confinement. During this period "The loss of freedom of movement and the loss of reference points" were the main acute stressors.

Thus, the new restriction measures generate annoyances. But the prejudices suffered in terms of mental disorders are much less important. In reality, only people who are fragile or have mental health problems remain really affected by the context. While the others have regained some form of balance.


The investigation carried out during the lockdown has not finished detailing its results. Indeed, 3 other scientific articles are to be published. One on the development of well-being during this period, another on women and finally a last on people with mental disorders.

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