The Dangers of COVID-19 on Mental Health
Updated: Apr 15
Many individuals were full of hopes, resolutions, and dreams as they brought in the New Year with loved ones. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken the world by storm as no one expected a virus to turn the year 2020 upside down. What was meant to be a year full of weddings, baby showers, parties, and graduations turned into stay-at-home orders and the world completely shutting down in order to protect everyone from the dangers of the virus. When the lawmakers implemented these orders, they did not consider the many individuals battling their mental health. According to the Lancet Journals (2020), “Even before COVID-19, mental health conditions were prevalent, accounting for about 13% of the global burden of disease. Yet, the world was woefully unprepared to deal with the mental health impact of this pandemic. Years of underinvestment in mental health, especially in low-income and middle-income countries, have left us vulnerable.” Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. A number of things can affect mental health, when the world is “normal”, so it is not unusual that the pandemic has taken a toll on many individual’s mental health.
Effects on Mental Health
When one mentions issues that can impact mental health, they are talking about individual’s battles with anxiety, depression, PTSD, ADHD, substance abuse, and many other disorders in the DSM-5. As an intern, working with an agency that offers therapeutic services to individuals, there has been a number of concerns for our clients. Many clients have had their routines severely impacted due to having to stay home from their usual activities and isolate from their loved ones. While other clients, that are considered essential employees, have had to brave the outside world while fearful of getting sick or exposing their families to the virus. Whether it is isolation or the fear of the unknown, mental health difficulties are at an all-time high. There are people losing their lives to the virus, children and teachers attempting to navigate virtual learning due to schools being closed, parents who are working minimum wage jobs being forced to pay costly childcare or leave their children at home unsupervised, and children who has not been able to see their peers in months. There are people so fearful of exposure to the virus that they refuse to seek medical help even when necessary. Because of this, many battling their mental health are fighting hard to live daily.
Coping with Mental Health Issues
During these times, it is important to remember that you are not alone. The world is fighting this pandemic together and we are all hoping that everything gets back to normal soon. However, if you find yourself struggling with your mental health, during the pandemic, there are ways to cope and get through it. Fortunately, therapists are offering virtual sessions for individuals to talk through some of their concerns and challenges. Many insurance companies are offering assistance with coverage for mental health services during these uncertain times. If therapy is not an option, some other things that you can do include picking up a new hobby, completing projects, exercising, and journaling. I will leave you with two quotes that I try to remember, during tough times,
“Every situation in life is temporary” and “Trust yourself, you have survived a lot and you will survive whatever is coming”.
The Lancet Journal. (2020). The intersection of COVID-19 and Mental Health. Retrieved from https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(20)30797-0/fulltext