Millions of helpline calls reveal how COVID affected mental health

Heidi Ledford

Nature | November 17, 2021

A members of the public seen sunbathing in the street around the corner from Primrose Hill on April 5, 2020 in London, England.
The COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020 created public space for sunbathing but have been linked to a rise in helpline calls in some countries.Credit: Ollie Millington/Getty

A sweeping study of 8 million calls to helplines in 19 countries and regions found that call volumes jumped during the first wave of coronavirus infections. Loneliness and concerns about the pandemic drove most of the callers, rather than imminent threats such as suicidal thoughts or abuse.

The analysis, published on 17 November by Nature1, is one of the largest to address mental-health challenges during the pandemic. The authors report that calls to helplines increased over the first six weeks of the initial wave of coronavirus infections. At the six-week peak, the total number of calls was 35% higher than before the pandemic.

Read More »

Europe’s COVID death toll could rise by hundreds of thousands

Smriti Mallapaty

Nature | November 18, 2021

Senior citizen Elisabeth Steubesand, 105, receives an inoculation against COVID-19 at a vaccine center, Germany.
Elisabeth Steubesand, 105, receives an inoculation against COVID-19 in Germany, which has a large population of people vulnerable to the disease because they are older and have neither caught the virus nor received a vaccineCredit: Andreas Rentz/Getty

The COVID-19 pandemic could cost an extra 300,000 lives in Europe, according to a study of the number of people in 19 countries who have been neither infected nor vaccinated1.

The study’s models also predict that the pandemic could lead to roughly one million hospitalizations in Europe, some of which would contribute to the projected death toll. But the authors of the analysis point out that their estimates are maximum numbers, which assume that all anti-infection restrictions are lifted and contacts between individuals have returned to their pre-pandemic levels. The analysis was posted as a preprint on the medRxiv server and has not yet been peer reviewed.

Read More »

Marx and Digital Machines: Alienation, Technology, Capitalism

Mike Healy

University of Westminster Press, London, 2020, xi+156pp., £ 19,99
ISBN 9781-912656790

Reviewed by Thomas Klikauer

Ever since German philosopher Hegel discussed alienation and Karl Marx converted it into the sensible framework of the economics of capitalism, alienation isn’t really a new subject – many might even think all has been said. Yet, Healy’s exquisite book applies several recent frameworks of alienation to two groups of workers – IT workers and academics. His book delivers surprising insights and results. Healy has divided his book into eight short and very readable chapters starting with a conceptual chapter on “alienation”. The book’s key empirical chapters are on IT professionals.

Read More »

The Memeing of Mark Fisher: How the Frankfurt School Foresaw Capitalist Realism and What to Do About it

Mike Watson

Zer0 Books, Winchester UK, 2021, 128pp., £10.99
ISBN 9781789049336

Reviewed by Jack Dignam

In the introduction to The Memeing of Mark Fisher, Watson writes that the book is ‘laid out here in six more-or-less standalone chapters’, leaving the reader to assume that each chapter is self-contained and their consequences to be theorised independently. Yet, in his final chapter, entitled ‘Psychedelic Dreams: Marcuse, Fisher, and Acid Communism’, one finds a coherent vision that provides direction for the late Mark Fisher’s ‘Acid Communism’, a vision that synthesises the work found in the preceding chapters. Perhaps Watson’s comment is best understood as an attempt at modesty, then. Whatever the intention, however, his latest release is a testament to the importance of reading both the Frankfurt School and Fisher in light of our present conjuncture, not only theirs, and is an effort that is far from modest in its scope and consequence.

Read More »