According to FMUP, the project, entitled "COVID-19: Stress, Adaptation and Trauma - A Pan-European Study", aims to understand what impact the infection by the new coronavirus is having on mental health.

"We are all aware of the impact of Covid-19 on our lives, at personal, family, professional and social levels," said Margarida Figueiredo-Braga, one of the two project coordinators in the country, in a statement.

The FMUP researcher explains that factors such as social isolation, job loss, risk of infection and concern with the health of family and friends are difficult realities to face.

"It's such a complex variety of challenges that it can lead to adaptation difficulties and symptoms of stress, anxiety, and eventually psychological trauma," she adds.

The first phase of the project involves conducting an 'online' survey, in which participants are asked to respond anonymously to a number of questions related to the changes caused by the pandemic.

The results compiled in the different countries will serve as a basis for "analysing the processes of adaptation of populations in a potentially traumatic context".

According to Margarida Braga, it is important "to identify which behavioural changes have served to minimise or aggravate the associated risks and stress".

At the end of the project, the researchers hope to understand, at national and international level, "what factors allow us to resist and adapt, or what risks the health system, the leaders and ourselves have to monitor in order to maintain mental health", reads the protocol of the study, meanwhile published in the international journal European Journal of Psychotraumatology.

Resulting from a collaboration between 11 European countries, the project is being coordinated centrally by the European Society for the Study of Traumatic Stress (ESTSS). Besides Portugal (through the FMUP and the Trauma Centre/CES of the University of Coimbra), Austria, Croatia, Georgia, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Sweden participate in the same study.