Is a Mental Health Crisis the Next Pandemic After COVID?
Humans are known to be social creatures and even the biggest introverts need human interaction from time to time. The lockdowns, restrictions, and quarantines that we have all experienced over the past year have shed light on a problem that is rapidly increasing: the mental health crisis.
According to a survey by The Harris Poll in February 2021, 1 in 5 adults reported that their mental health has worsened over the past year. A time where we are told to isolate is when we seem to need other humans the most. Isolation has left millions of people dealing with feelings of loneliness and depression. And for the people that had pre-existing anxiety disorders and/or depression, the pandemic has only magnified it.
Increased depression and anxiety, decreased sleep quality, and increased substance abuse are all direct results of the stress from the pandemic. This is particularly true for young people, parents, essential workers, and people of color. With everyone going on in the world, chronic stress has become a part of our daily lives.
Increased Depression and Anxiety
According to an American Psychological Association (APA) survey, essential workers were more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with a mental health disorder since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is no surprise as essential workers have been experiencing the pandemic head-on and non-stop since it first started in March 2020, with many of them working with the direct public and only taking days off of work to quarantine, take care of sick loved ones, or recover from the virus themselves.
On the other side of the aisle, people working from home have been dealing with a sudden lack of social interaction, a new way of working with blurred lines between work and home life, and are constantly in front of a screen.
Mental health has heavily affected the American population with 46% of Genz Z, 33% of Gen X, 31% of Millennials, 28% of Boomers, and 9% of older adults expressing worsening mental health disorders.
Children going through school remotely, parents having limited access to childcare and having to choose between working or homeschooling, and everyone overall not being able to see their family and friends and do the things that bring them joy. Everyone is seemingly struggling from something these days, but it’s important to know that even if you’re not in a room full of people, you are not alone.
Decreased Sleep Quality
According to the APA survey, 2 in 3 Americans (67%) have indicated that they are sleeping more or less than usual since the pandemic started. Racing thoughts, disrupted schedules, and a lack of routine can all contribute to sleep issues. This could be from any of the number of stressors that are happening in our world today, from overall uncertainty, social injustice, health concerns, financial instability, economic conditions, etc.
Increased Substance Use
Drugs and alcohol are easy escapes from reality. Stress and trauma are usual causes for substance abuse and with more time at home with nothing to do, drugs and alcohol are easy avenues to turn to for comfort. The APA survey noted that approximately 1 in 4 adults (23%) reported consuming more alcohol since the start of the pandemic in order to cope with the stress of it. However, this type of comfort is short-acting and has long-lasting consequences both physically and mentally.
How to Get Help
Unfortunately, people no longer have the access to the people and the activities that they normally turn to cope with stress as a result of the pandemic. Unhealthy coping mechanisms have slowly crept in and taken their place. There are ways to turn things around by finding healthy coping mechanisms and putting them into place.
At Harmony Bay Wellness, our mental health professionals can help you find the coping skills that work for you including different types of therapy including depression therapy and anxiety therapy. In addition, we’ll be able to address your problems and work through your stressors and trauma together, providing you with coping skills that you’ll be able to use whenever you need to. Whether you want to attend appointments in person following CDC guidelines or you are more comfortable with a telehealth appointment, contact us today to improve your mental health.