Mental Health and COVID-19
Updated: Dec 31, 2020
Human beings like certainty. We are hard-wired to want to know what is happening when and to notice things that feel threatening to us. When things feel uncertain or when we don’t generally feel safe, it’s normal to feel stressed. This very reaction, while there to protect us, can wreak all sorts of havoc when there is a sense of uncertainty and conflicting information around us.
The first study to examine the health of those who have been living under a lockdown has found that just one month of confinement can negatively impact physical and mental health. Carried out by researchers from the University of Adelaide, Tongji University and University of Sydney, Australia, the new study surveyed 369 adults from 64 cities in China after they had lived in confinement for one month due to the current COVID-19 outbreak. The surveys revealed that in one month under lockdown measures, 34 percent of the participants had not left home at all, 14 percent had left home only once, and 22 percent had left their home more than five times. More than a quarter of participants (27 percent) left their home to go to work in their office during confinement, while 38 percent worked from home, and 25 percent stopped work altogether.
The demand for mental health services has long been higher than the supply of available sit-down appointments. The coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated this dynamic, by making in-person counseling nearly impossible while also intensifying existing symptoms of depression and anxiety for some people and potentially causing new symptoms for others.
Virtual mental health services could fill part of that gap, but the format also creates new challenges. People sheltering in place with family members or roommates for weeks on end, especially in a cramped living space, may lack a private space where they can do a video or audio chat with a therapist without being overheard. That may be fueling demand for smartphone apps that allow users to chat via text messaging and to access educational content.
The outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in both adults and children. Coping with stress, however, will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.
Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include:
Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
Changes in sleep or eating patterns
Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
Worsening of chronic health problems
Worsening of mental health conditions
Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
Ways to cope with stress include:
Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
Take care of your body.
Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate
Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
Exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep.
Avoid alcohol and drugs
Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
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