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International study shows that fear of compassion increased the harmful impact of Covid-19 on mental health

31 may
Marcela Matos
Marcela Matos
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The fear of compassion has increased the harmful impact of Covid-19 on mental health, raising levels of depression, anxiety and stress, reveals a study conducted as part of a pioneering international project on psychological resilience during the pandemic, led by Marcela Matos, from the University of Coimbra (UC).

This consortium, which explores compassion, social connection and resilience to trauma during the Covid-19 pandemic, i.e., the factors that may increase or reduce the risk of mental health problems in this context, has the participation of scientists from 21 countries in Europe, the Middle East, North America, South America, Asia and Oceania.

In this particular study, already published in the scientific journal "Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy", the sample universe consisted of 4057 individuals of both sexes from the general population, selected from the 21 participating countries.

According to the coordinator, Marcela Matos, the results obtained show that "fear of self-compassion, fear of compassion towards others and fear of receiving compassion from others are associated with higher levels of depression, anxiety and stress and less sense of security and connection to others".

The researcher from the Research Centre for Neuropsychology and Cognitive-Behavioural Intervention (CINEICC) of the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of the University of Coimbra (FPCEUC) explains that while in one hand compassion can be a protective factor, in the other, "fear of compassion increases vulnerability to psychosocial suffering, causing an impact of the pandemic on mental health".

Matos adds, "we also noticed that the fear of receiving compassion from other people, that is, being less available/receptive to receive support, help and compassion from other people in our lives, is an important risk factor that worsens the harmful impact of the pandemic/fear of the virus on the sense of security and connection to others".

In light of the results obtained, which cut across the 21 countries that participated in the study, the researcher argues that public health authorities "should adopt communication focused on promoting compassion and connection to others in order to reduce compassion fears and thus promote resilience and mental well-being during and after the COVID-19 pandemic."