Posted 18 января 2022,, 06:09

Published 18 января 2022,, 06:09

Modified 24 декабря 2022,, 22:37

Updated 24 декабря 2022,, 22:37

Time of fears: the demand for the help of psychologists in Russia has grown 11 times in 2 years

18 января 2022, 06:09
Russians began to seek help from psychologists 11 times more often than before the pandemic. People complain about fears, burnout, depression. It is especially difficult for families with children. The online business of psychological counseling is booming. Experts say that it will only grow.

Yelena Ivanova, Natalia Seibil

The forced confinement within four walls during the lockdown and the fear of losing prospects brought with them not only suffering for many millions of compatriots. People have discovered for themselves what for a long time was considered a fad of the inhabitants of rich countries - psychological counseling.

Demand for them increased 11 times last year. With the advent of remote medical services, psychological counseling has firmly secured its place in the top ten in terms of the frequency of contacting specialists. The help of psychologists has ceased to be a “Cheshire cat smile”, as this situation was described back in Soviet times by a well-known Russian psychologist, academician of the Russian Academy of Education , head of the Department of Personality Psychology, Faculty of Psychology, Moscow State University named after M.V. Lomonosov Alexander Asmolov , when there were psychologists, there were problems of a psychological nature, too, and appeals remained at the zero level. Now everything has changed - the culture of turning to a psychologist is a fait accompli, although the danger of falling for charlatans has grown:

- Today, a situation of uncertainty reigns, and many people are in need of psychological support and counseling. But first of all, it should be the support of professionals, and not people who put on the mask of a psychologist, but they are not, Alexander Asmolov warns.

The fears that torment the Russians

The present time can without any doubt be called the time of fears. They are also chasing fellow citizens for help. As sociologists say, last year was the peak of a variety of fears: war, repression, arbitrariness, death.

- We have been measuring fears for more than 20 years, and in the last couple of years they have been very high. Uncertainty grew, a general feeling of trouble, pressure from the state. All this is fixed, - says the director of the Levada Center ( recognized as a foreign agent. - "NI" ) sociologist Denis Volkov .

There is a whole range of fears. In the first place among Russians is the disease of loved ones and children. This is reported by 82% of respondents. The second fear is the threat of a world war, its indicators have grown strongly over the past year against the backdrop of an aggravation of the conflict with the West. And the third is the actions of the authorities, which either introduce lockdowns, or introduce mandatory vaccinations, tests, quarantines, increase tariffs and taxes, pass laws that can put any user of social networks in jail for a careless word and a "wrong" picture ...

- Fear of arbitrariness of the authorities grew in 2018 very strongly. There has been growth in 2021 as well. In 2017 - 29%, in 2018 - 51%, in 2021 it jumped to 58%, now it has dropped to 53%, Denis Volkov states.

Before the pandemic, 33% of those polled by sociologists were afraid of death. In 2021, there were 40% of them.

In 2020, Russians feared the economic fallout from the pandemic. The expectation of unemployment was not a strong emotional fear, but as a background has been present all this time.

In 2020, people were more afraid of the economic consequences of the pandemic, they were afraid of losing their livelihoods. In 2021, citizens were worried about the state of the healthcare system and the fear of losing loved ones and friends.

Anxiety becomes chronic

In 2019 and 2020, Anna Gerasimova, an employee of the Moscow Psychological Assistance Service, conducted a comparative analysis of calls from citizens to the MSPP Helpline before and during the pandemic. The number of calls for anxiety has increased dramatically. The number of complaints about self-damaging behavior, when a person, trying to overcome mental pain, injures himself, has increased by 2.5 times.

During the pandemic, the number of complaints about domestic violence, both physical and sexual, has increased by one and a half times.

- Before the pandemic, people used to go to work, school, kindergarten. 2020, when there was self-isolation, quarantines, and now too, people spend more time together in the family. For adults and children, stress factors are the uncertainty of the situation, and most importantly, the destruction of the usual way of life, habitual stereotypes of behavior, including entertainment, the inability to take a break from each other ... The number of complaints about relations with parents from children who contact the MSUPE helpline has also sharply increased. And of course, physical inactivity and an increase in time at the computer have a very negative effect, - says Alla Kholmogorova , dean of the Faculty of Consultative and Clinical Psychology of the Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, leading researcher at the N.V. Sklifosovsky.

The key reason why people turn to a psychologist is the stress of collapsing prospects, Alexander Asmolov believes. It is he who not only leads to an increase in anxiety, but also to serious depression, up to suicide:

- It was the collapse of prospects that became the key, deep reason for turning to a psychologist, so that he would help make a choice and help overcome the sentence of oneself to helplessness.

- In a pandemic, a special effect arises, which is described by the famous psychologist Seligman - the effect of learned helplessness, which is most vividly conveyed by the words of Mary the Artificer: "What will, what is bondage is all the same." A psychologist should help in this situation to do the main thing - to help see the prospects and see the meaning of life in a crisis situation , - this is how Alexander Asmolov sees the task of psychologists.

The most vulnerable parents of schoolchildren and preschoolers, points out Alla Kholmogorova, Dean of the Faculty of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at MSUPE, Leading Researcher at the N.V. Sklifosovsky Research Institute for Emergency Medicine:

- An increase in depressive and anxiety states is observed during all epidemics, which are always followed by a deterioration in the mental health of the population. So now the pandemic provokes an epidemic of mental ill-being. Here, the deterioration of the quality of communication and social contacts plays an important role. Insanely lacking the happiness of everyday communication with different people, which we used to consider as the norm, but now it is becoming an inaccessible pleasure.

Social problems are closely intertwined with psychological ones. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the burnout syndrome has haunted doctors who, literally, have been on the “front line” in the fight against the pandemic for the third year in a row. But they are not the only ones affected by the situation. Due to the transition to remote work, processing is observed, Alla Kholmogorova notes:

- An irregular number of working hours, which was greatly facilitated by the transition to remote work. You can be pulled at any time. So the burnout is on. Most of all, specialists of social professions - teachers, doctors. It's a big problem there.

"Black Square" of Russian healthcare

According to WHO, the economic burden of mental disorders far exceeds the burden of all other diseases. In developed countries, this figure is 23% of all diseases, while cardiac diseases account for 10%, and oncology - 5%.

- If depression or anxiety disorders join a somatic disease, then, firstly, this doubles the cost of treatment, and secondly, it leads to an increased risk of chronicity and significantly worsens the prognosis. The pandemic has forced us to face the problem of mental health, the importance of which has clearly been underestimated until now, - notes Alla Kholmogorova.

Despite this, in Russia there is no law on the provision of psychological assistance, so any person who has received minimal training can place an ad on the Internet - and the money "machine" is already running.

Now, on behalf of the Ministry of Education, a coordinating center for the work of the psychological service is being created, issues of attestation of specialists are being discussed, as well as how remote counseling should work. Vitaly Rubtsov, Academician of the Russian Academy of Education, President of the Moscow State Psychological and Pedagogical University says:

- In fact, there are a lot of pitfalls hidden here, when you can run into an unqualified specialist who, instead of helping, will simply do harm. This is an open question. This must be done. Correlate the certification system with the requirements of national standards and introduce the missing competencies into the training system. It is necessary to change both the certification system and the training system itself. The certification system for such specialists is not working well. This is a question for the system. Therefore, anyone can be in this place! Because there is an opportunity to receive money for the service. People who come to work there do not meet the requirements of the professional standard of psychological counseling, but they take it because there is a need for such specialists and for this service. People rush to it to get an answer.

In order not to fall for charlatans, you need to carefully read what the specialist himself tells about himself - where he studied, what kind of training he received, which of the areas of psychological counseling he was trained in:

- It is very important to indicate in what problems he specializes. If a person treats everything in the world, this raises great doubts. If the advertisement says "I will solve all problems" - this should become a red traffic light. A professional presentation is distinguished not only by modesty, but by the concreteness and clarity of content.

All psychologists unanimously say - beware of unprofessional amateurs and self-taught!

- There are a number of excellent psychological centers where you can meet professional psychologists. First of all, these are those that have been issued by the Faculty of Psychology of Moscow State University, the Moscow Psychological and Pedagogical University, the Higher School of Economics, these are the consultations that the Moscow Institute of Psychoanalysis gives. There is a high probability that you will meet with a professional, and not with those who put on the mask of a psychologist, Alexander Asmolov warns.

Private consultations often become another way of extorting money from the population relatively honestly. Therefore, experts strongly advise contacting state free psychological assistance centers, although serious private practices will help.

The number of cases of unskilled assistance has increased significantly during the pandemic. With the growth of coronavirus cases, the number of requests for psychological counseling is proportionally increasing. In the absence of proper certification of psychologists, the burden of verification falls on the patients themselves. However, this is not news to us.