As hard as it is to believe, we are circling in on 1 year of the Coronavirus taking over the world and everything around us. In March 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a world pandemic, and no one knew it was going to be prevalent in our lives this long. If someone said it would still be here exactly a year later, we all would have laughed. But now, working from home is second nature, standing 6 ft apart in the grocery store line is a habit and checking if restaurants have outdoor seating is a must before planning any sort of outing.
There have been positives and negatives throughout this whole experience, but something that has recently come to the forefront of discussion is what the pandemic has done to people’s mental health. In human nature, community and communication with others is needed. We long to have relationships and feel connected, but being isolated from the majority of the people we know, does not help with that. People have been separated from their loved ones for months upon months, and especially for the high-risk portion, it can get lonely.
According to the CDC , from June to September of 2020, Qualtrics administered surveys to assess mental health during this crisis. In June 2020, the surveys started with adults 18 years of age or over across the US. From the results, 41% reported at least one adverse mental health condition like anxiety or depressive disorder, 26% reported symptoms of trauma and stressor related disorder, and 13% have started/increased substance use to cope with stress or emotions related to Covid-19. 10.7% of respondents reported having seriously considered suicide in the 30 days before completing the survey and it was considerably higher among respondents ages 18-24 and minorities.
Another study completed in August by KFF, a nonprofit that develops and runs its own policy analysis and journalism on national health issues, determined 1 in 4 adults 65 and older reported anxiety and depression disorder in the survey, and that it was constant since the pandemic started in March. Older adults have experienced higher rates of social isolation due to trying to keep safe from being a high-risk candidate of the illness. In 2018, Medicare took the same survey (Medicare current beneficiary survey) and the rate was 1 in 10, meaning it has doubled due to coronavirus, even though it is less than the ages of 18-24.
There has not been an update from these companies of statistics as time went on in 2020, but Healthline has stated over the years that mental illnesses get worse and become more prevalent during the holidays from increased stressed and feelings of loneliness. This means that so many people who have struggled during the pandemic, might have had even more unbalanced emotions as the holiday struggles came around. And unfortunately, we are still going strong in the pandemic lifestyle 2 months after the holidays, making it hard for people to recover.
As the pandemic rolls on, media outlets have tried bringing awareness to the situation by talking about it more and broadcasting local counseling centers and hotlines you can call in to. Telehealth has also positively improved both mental and physical health by being able to talk to all types of doctors via phone call or video chat. The CDC has a health tab on their website that now includes a mental health section under ‘stress and coping,’ and is updated frequently, last being January, 22 2021. It states that stress and mental health struggles can cause the following:
- feelings of fear, sadness, or worry
- changes in appetite and energy
- difficulty sleeping
- physical reactions such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems or rashes
- worsening of health and mental conditions
- increased substance use
They also provide ways to help cope with these issues like:
- Take a break from watching or reading the news
- Take care of your body by stretching, meditating, eating well, exercising and getting plenty of sleep, and getting vaccinated when you can
- Take time to unwind
- Connect with others either in person if it is safe, or online with resources like Zoom or a phone call
Times are tough right now, and it is important to look out for yourself, and be your best self so you can help look after your loved ones. If you are suffering from stress, anxiety, depression or fear, try out the coping mechanisms the CDC has provided, and if you need to speak to someone, do not be afraid to make a counseling appointment and/or call any of the crisis hotline numbers provided by the CDC here. Take care of yourself, check on your loved ones, stay positive, do what makes you happy, and we can make it through!
“There is hope, even when your brain tells you there isn’t.” ― John Green, a bestselling, inspirational author.