ROUEN, France — Lockdowns that are forcing millions of people to once again stay home — cutting them off from families and friends, shuttering businesses they invested in, university classes that fed their minds and the nightspots where they socialized — has begun to turn back the coronavirus resurgence in France.
Still, in the country that passed the bleak milestone of 52,000 dead in November, the costs to mental health have been considerable.
With numbers now falling for French COVID-19 patients in intensive care, psychiatrists are facing a follow-up wave of psychological distress. Health authorities’ surveys point to a surge of depression most acute among people without work, those in financial hardship and young adults.
The Rouvray Hospital Center in the Normandy town of Rouen is among places where psychiatrists are finding themselves on the front line of the pandemic’s mental-health fallout. They are fearful that a growing crisis of depression, anxiety and worse may be on the horizon as more livelihoods, futures and hopes are lost to the pandemic.
Associated Press journalists spent 10 hours in the sprawling 535-bed facility, the day after French President Emmanuel Macron laid out a blueprint stretching into mid-January for the gradual lifting of lockdown restrictions.
“Being alone between four walls is terrible,” one patient says. “The halting of life like this, it reverberates on people. It is not good.”