Almost an entire year into a worldwide pandemic, you may be feeling more stressed than ever. COVID-19 has made life different for everyone. From social distancing to virtual learning, everything has changed. Our routine isn’t what we were used to, and that can come with challenges.
If you find yourself struggling, finding a mental health counselor who can help you through this tough time is essential, even through a screen.
You wouldn’t just brush off a broken arm, would you? So why would you ignore your mental health? Your brain is your most complex and important organ. You have to take care of it.
The Impact of COVID on Mental Health
The world has been turned upside-down in the last year, from social distancing to having to go through virtual learning. All these changes are making it rougher for mental health than normal everyday life.
It’s no secret that a pandemic is rough on mental health. It’s been documented before that a pandemic will see a rise in mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and even OCD. There has been a rise happening with mental health issues because of the isolation, social distancing, and virtual learning and work.
Social Distancing & Isolation
One of the first things that happened in many places was the closure of non-essential businesses and schools all over the United States. People were told that staying home and only going out when needed was going to help prevent the spread of the virus. All restaurants were closed to dine-in, and other social gatherings were put on hold till further notices.
There are reported issues that come with social isolation, which is where we are now. People are feeling the adverse effects of what is our new normal. There has been a rise of about 37% in mental health issues ranging from anxiety to depression during this quarantine.
The biggest worry is that of suicidal ideation during this time. Isolation is a risk factor for suicide, and being forced to be in isolation can increase the thoughts that lead to it. This is why talking to a mental health professional is vital.
If you are finding yourself in a dark place, find a counselor in your area. These times are hard, and having someone to talk to is going to be essential. If you aren’t able to contact a counselor, then reach out to your family and friends. You may not be able to see them in person but use FaceTime and Zoom to meet people. Your mental health is so important, and you have to take care of yourself, even in isolation.
There are many children out there that are still doing virtual learning. Your child may be one of them, and you can see them struggling. Many parents are worried about their child falling behind in social and emotional development during this time.
It's a valid worry. Children need to have one another to thrive and grow into adults later on. Zoom classroom isn’t the same as being in a school, but it is better than nothing. Make sure your child is logging into the meetings and participating. This is going to help them in the long run, and if they are struggling, talk to the teacher yourself. For special needs children, this virtual learning is more challenging. IEPs and other learning accommodations aren’t easy when it comes to a virtual classroom.
Now, as children start going back to the building, there are even more worries. For students with social anxiety, it may be heightened after being in isolation for so long. Take it easy on them and try and work with them to know it is okay. This virus is scary but wearing the mask, washing your hands, and staying six feet apart is helping.
Finding a mental health professional that can help with these worries will be vital in helping those who struggle. Being able to talk to someone who understands is going to be helpful in the long run.
Losing a job during COVID-19 has been at an all-time high. This is a tough place to consider that have not only jobs been lost, but also insurance. This takes a toll on anyone’s mental health, not knowing how we can get the help we need.
The less money you make, the worse the impact is when it comes to losing a job. It is a scary place to be when you don’t know how you will afford to take care of your health.
Take the time to research what you can do if you lose your job and insurance. While it isn’t ideal, COBRA is an option if you can afford it. Your mental health should come first when dealing with something as stressful as a pandemic.
Mental Health Check
It is essential to check in on your mental health and those around you. There are many signs to take in, and while some are subtle, others are loud and in your face. Here are some of the signs to look out for that may be signs you need to see a professional.
Those are just some of the signs that you may need to check in with a professional. Remember, your brain sometimes needs some extra help-- it can get "sick" just like any other part of your physical body. This pandemic is taking a toll on everyone, and you shouldn’t have to feel like you are going at it alone.
It isn’t easy right now in the world. That is clear as day. If you or someone you know is struggling, reach out. It doesn’t mean you are weak or broken-- it means you courageous and you care. We are here to help. Your mental health matters.
Contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our licensed counselors today.
Written by Tia Kitchens for Banyan Tree Counseling & Wellness. Holding a degree in Psychology from Capella University, Tia is a writer with a passion for psychology and learning. In her free time she enjoys being with animals and hopes to work with therapy animals in the future. Ultimately, she aspires to spread awareness about the importance of mental health.
Chantal D. Hayes