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First anniversary of masked Quebec

What psychological effects can wearing a mask have in the long term?

I would spontaneously say that they depend on how each person perceives and understands the merits of wearing a mask. If I do not doubt the effectiveness of this measure, I will be able to wear it without there being psychological effects which are harmful or negative. If I have a persistent doubt, the harmful or negative effects will be present. For example, frustration or irritability. And that will influence my ability to follow the other directions.

A woman strikes a pose, all smiles, propped up against a wooden plank.

In addition to being a clinical psychologist, Geneviève Pelletier-Beaulieu is an associate professor at the University of Quebec in Montreal.

Photo: Courtesy

The inconvenience of wearing a mask are often put forward. Are there any positive aspects?

For some people, this measure has a reassuring side. If I am someone particularly anxious and I see that I am not the only one wearing a mask, that reassures me. This is all the more true in periods of transition, such as that of deconfinement that we are living at the moment. It is reassuring to see that certain measures to which we have become accustomed, to which we have adapted, still remain in place.

Did the discourse around wearing a mask since the start of this pandemic seem coherent to you?

At times, there were contradictions, hesitations and changes of course because it was not easy to face the new reality imposed on us by the pandemic. When there are changes of course, unfortunately, the speech is less well understood and less well followed. However, in a context as particular as that of the pandemic, it is normal to make changes of course at certain times. Without being able to be coherent, let’s remain transparent. Let us explain why such a measure must be maintained or why we changed our minds. It’s the best way to reach people, the best way to make it meaningful to them and ultimately stick to the guidelines.

An abandoned surgical mask hangs in the branches of a shrub.

Disposable or fabric, irritating or essential … To each their own style, to each their own mask!

Photo: The Canadian Press / Graham Hughes

At the start of this health crisis, anti-masks made their voices heard. Today the movement Here I wear a smile is gaining momentum among traders. What does this translate?

The fact of being imposed sanitary measures came to suppress our psychological need for autonomy. Initially, it activated a sensitive chord in some. The movement we are currently observing expresses the weariness of certain traders. It is true that it is long. The frustration is more and more there. Our need for autonomy has been severely tested. And the more we deconfine, the more irritating it can be to continue to follow certain measures. People are psychologically exhausted from following instructions.

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