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Is spending time quarantined bad for your mental health?
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On public health systems

Access to mental health treatment dictates the mental health outcomes of quarantines.
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The ability of public health systems to respond to the evolving needs of the coronavirus pandemic, particularly mental health systems, will dictate the long-term mental health outcomes of the population.

The Argument

If a nation’s health system places an emphasis on mental health, and its delivery channels can be quickly adapted to incorporate telemedicine, then the long-term mental health outcomes can be managed. For example, in China, where an estimated 760 million citizens underwent a residential lockdown of some kind, mental health remains something of a taboo. It is stigmatized and mental health care is not forthcoming. The Chinese government emphasizes primary and emergency care in its budget and has long-neglected mental health.[1] Early estimates from China indicate that some 42% of citizens who were in isolation in January and February of 2020 are exhibiting signs of anxiety caused by isolation. In other countries, where mental health care is more widely available, this will not be the case.

Counter arguments

This is a factor for how widespread the mental health impact will be, but it will not determine whether or not quarantine will be a negative or positive on people’s mental health outcome. No country’s mental health treatment capabilities can effectively cope with tens of millions of its citizens entering quarantine.


[P1] Public health systems with adequate mental health care can prevent the negative mental health outcomes of quarantine. [P2] Therefore, the outcomes depend on the public health system.

Rejecting the premises

[P1] No health system on earth can effectively prevent and manage all of the mental health outcomes of quarantining.


This page was last edited on Monday, 23 Mar 2020 at 11:57 UTC

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