‘The Strength of Ordinary People.’ The Creative Ways Italians Are Supporting Each Other During Their Coronavirus Lockdown

For weeks, Roberta Brivio’s phone has been ringing several times an hour. “I can’t even find the time to eat,” she says from her office in Melegnano, south of Milan. A 74-year-old psychologist living in Lombardy, Brivio is the president of the local branch of the Italian Society for Emergency Psychology. Italy has the world’s highest death toll from COVID-19, with more than 16,000 coronavirus-related deaths so far; more than half of those deaths have been in the northern region of Lombardy. In early March, after Italy’s COVID-19 outbreak flared up near her home, Brivio and four colleagues set up a free mental health hotline for Lombardy residents struggling to cope with death and isolation. She began to receive calls immediately. “Many people call us with anxiety, loneliness or fear,” she says. “We are seeing many panic attacks; sometimes they even happen during the phone call.” In the past month, the hotline has helped over 750 struggling residents, Brivio says. She now coordinates a network of 200 professional psychologists who have reached out to volunteer. “I’ve had to learn to use Zoom,” Brivio jokes. Thousands of other Italians are also finding new ways to support each other as the country enters its fifth week of lockdown. It was not long ago that Italy was bitterly divided, with rampant anti-immigration sentiment and populist politicians topping opinion polls. But now it seems that the pan...
Source: TIME: Health - Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Tags: Uncategorized COVID-19 feature Londontime Source Type: news

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